Today is the Annual Meeting for Redeemer, New Paltz, and as such we are provided with an opportunity for reflection and celebration on where we’ve been, as well as for casting our collective eyes towards where we are going next, all of this considered in light of and in context with the Word of God as it comes to us in scripture and is being revealed to us in the person and acting grace of Christ Jesus. Sure, there’s some business of Spending Plans and election of Council members and reports that need taking care of sandwiched in here as well, but those only make sense and only really matter in the context of reflecting on the mission to which God in Christ is calling us as a community in Christ sent for the world.

So, some reflection: Well…we have survived another year of living through a pandemic. After our first year of living through the pandemic we might as individuals and as a church community have thought, “been there, done that, probably don’t need to do that again.” Yet, here we are, finishing up year two, and therefore perhaps reasonably thinking, “wait, I was definitely clear that one year was enough, God, right? What happened?”

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In these days of hyper-fast, hyper fast lives, it can be hard to make the time to dwell deeply, consider fully, treasure the stuff of life.

Today is the second time we hear of Mary “treasuring these things in her heart.” The first time was when Jesus was born in a lowly manger and the angels sang and the shepherds visited. Mary, we hear, treasured it all in her heart.

Now, as she and Joseph experience the panic of parents having lost pre-teen Jesus after going up for the festival of Passover in Jerusalem, only to find him back at the Jewish Temple amidst the teachers and elders declaring, “where else would you expect to find me, but at my Father’s house,” we again hear that Mary treasured all these things in her heart.

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Hmmm…Not today, oh God, not today. Oh, please don’t ask us to get up and face this world with all of its poverty and sadness; with all of its loneliness and fear. Today, just today, can we get up and open presents and eat cakes and laugh and rest. Today, just today, can we sit comfortable and content. Today, just today, will you allow us - instead of worrying about the world - to instead bask in the promises of your light and help us to know the promise of your love is enough? Enough to vanquish the armies of hate with a child of hope.

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“For unto you this day is born a child in Bethlehem; who is Christ the Lord.”

Unto YOU this day.

Oh sure, the Christ child is also born for your neighbor. The Christ child is born for the stranger, the immigrant and the refugees and all of those whom we or others in the world have at some point or still today deem “lesser.”

But in order to get down that deep into the message God is giving us, and really understand this message of love that transcends boundaries and divisions, we first need to recognize that Christ is born for us. For me and for YOU.

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The four Sundays of Advent, Advent being our season of preparation for the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus, Immanuel; the four Sundays of Advent have taken us time traveling. In week one, to the end of all time, reminding us that the Christ upon whose birth we wait is also the Christ upon whom we wait at the end of all time - the Christ who will make all things new and reconcile and redeem this broken world and our broken lives. Then, in weeks two and three we jumped from the end of time back to nearly two thousand years ago to meet John the Baptist, crying out for us to prepare for the way of the Messiah; to get our hearts and lives in order. And here in week four, we jump still further back in time, to when John the Baptist was but a babe in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth’s sister Mary, pregnant with Jesus, comes to visit.

This was an auspicious visit, this meeting of sisters: Mary and Elizabeth.

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