December 7, 2011
This is the season of memory and expectation.
We look back to the Annunciation and Incarnation of Jesus, and we look forward to the coming of his kingdom, his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
This is a good reminder; this is a good example of the believer’s constant state.
We are caught in the day between days; The Lord has come and is coming; we live on the edge of his kingdom every day, every moment.
So let us, for a short time, look back in order to look forward.
I would like to reflect on the Annunciation, Gabriel coming to Mary and announcing to her the intentions of God, the plan of God, and asking of her obedience.
This is the beginning, but there is one beginning more.
God announces to mankind his intentions, asks them for obedience, both Adam and Eve.
Perhaps only through obedience can there truly be love, and thus they are given a choice.
Then comes the serpent, then comes Eve’s choice, and it is pride and disobedience that spite the command of God, that attempt a trampling of love.
Yet consider the steadfast love of the Lord, who grants life instead of the promised death, who promises a way through Eve’s offspring.
Consider these things: grace in the face of murder, provision in spite of and through betrayal, forgiveness of sin, exodus upon exodus. God hears the cry of the oppressed in Egypt, in Israel, in Babylon.
Now the angel comes and asks of Mary obedience.
This is the intention of God, to add humanity to divinity, and to take the form of his creation, to dwell among his creation in love.
And this love requires obedience, a second Eve, a second choice, a second beginning.
Mary chooses obedience: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
What are the intentions of God?
I do not presume to know. Yet I have seen in darkness a great light.
I heard a speaker say, “God bends God’s self” to hear the groans of his creation, the cries of all the earth. His love cannot remain apart, but joins itself to us, the material with the divine. And though through choice we fell, and we fall, through the choice of Mary, the obedience of Mary, God’s love is not kept apart from his creation.
God desires to redeem, to redeem even our very wills.
Mary’s is the redemption of choice itself; through one we fell, through another there is prepared, for Christ and all of us, a way.
This is not a story to be held in theological abstraction; it is a story to be lived.
It is the story.
The love and obedience of Mary and of Christ conquered Satan, sin and death.
Love and obedience conquer injustice, hatred, prejudice and poverty.
I went with a friend to Good Shepherd last year, on a Wednesday night.
I felt out of place; I felt unneeded; I felt strange, and, somehow, it was all about me.
There was a high school kid, rough looking guy, who took it upon himself to make me feel unsafe. “Are you looking at me?!” he said, posturing to intimidate.
“You looking at me?! Huh?!” Once, twice, I can’t remember how many times he asked.
“Man, I am not looking at you,” I finally said, laughing nervously, frustrated by the persistence of an intimidating curiosity.
In my nervousness, I fear I may have said something truer than I realized.
Was his the cry of the oppressed, and mine the choice of pride and disobedience? I haven’t gone back. Why was I not looking? Why am I not looking?
All around us, all around OBU’s campus, there is great darkness.
All around there is hell.
A Korean man gave me donuts and told me, “This city is dying. Here is very much need.”
Let us, then, not simply ask ourselves what Christ has done.
Rather let us, in remembrance, ask ourselves what Christ is doing.
Where is our love and obedience?
We have banquets and pageants, dinners, programs and caroling, and we rejoice because Jesus came, as we should. But because Christ came, let him come now, here, in Shawnee, through our obedience and in our love. If we cannot bring Christ here, where we are, in this community, how can we think we will bring Christ when we go elsewhere?