As we move into these final days of Advent, we turn our attention to Elizabeth and Zechariah, to Mary and Joseph and to their stories. Each of them offers us an insight into our journey of faith and our relationships with others.
Elizabeth reminds us to be bearers of promise. Zechariah calls us to listen well. Mary calls us to ponder. Joseph reminds us to be courageous. All four remind us to trust and to not let fear over take us. As companions on the journey, they also invite us to live with the conviction of a life rooted in Emmanuel – our God with us. Our God who has come to us and dwells here among all people, restoring us (Psalm 80) and filling us with peace (Micah 5.5a).
“Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country…” (Luke 1.39). As she went, she must have pondered what had been told to her, for her and of her. She must have considered Elizabeth and Zechariah and how they were adjusting to unforeseen circumstances. She must have thought of Joseph and all that was going on in his heart and story. She must have contemplated her people and their desire for the long-awaited Messiah. She must have pondered how the Messiah was close at hand, so close, hidden in plain sight.
These final days of Advent can often disappear and become a blur. Let us take a cue from Mary and ponder. Let us ponder the journey of the year that has been and reflect upon where we have hastened to and where we have avoided hastening. May this pondering awaken in us to where our steps need to hasten to this Christmas and in the coming year.
In a year which has seen the unsettling of our so-called collective past where have we hastened to build bridges? In a year which has seen even more environmental crises how have we hastened to honor and protect Mother Earth? In a year which has seen tensions rise between nations how have we hastened to be a voice of peace? In a year which has seen innocent people die because of ignorance where have we hastened to be an advocate for justice? In a year which has seen families and communities divided where have we hastened to listen well and heal wounds? In a year which has seen the need for truth and reconciliation to be honest where have we hastened to rise up to this work? In a year which has seen more fake news where have we hastened to speak the truth? In a year which has seen attacks on humanity from all walks of life where have we hastened to be witnesses of human fraternity? In a year which has seen… … … where have we hastened to... … …? In a year, in a month, in a day which has seen so much, where have we hastened to Christ? God of the Journey, you are with us in our steps no matter how quickly or how slowly we hasten. Remind us that you dwell here in us and among us. Stir up in us the hope and love which is infused into our very core, so that in turn we may hasten to that one place which needs your presence in this last Advent week, this late December day, this very moment. Amen.