The secret is out today. Mary goes to visit her husband Elizabeth, who knows Mary is pregnant (Luke 1:39-45). Not just the normal excitement for Elizabeth at good news in the family; she knows that the baby will be her Lord – the fulfilment of the promise God has made to all generations, as well as the fulfilment of the promise God had made to her about her son, John the Baptist.
Maggi tells us about her own experience of finding herself pregnant and finding a church not ready to deal with a pregnant ordinand; something then rare enough that there were no policies. Yet her baby wouldn’t wait to be born whilst the dear old CofE tried to work out what to do with her – her frustration and that of her tutor with the system that didn’t know what to do was palpable.
And so – are we ready for the arrival of Jesus at Christmas? I thought about this yesterday as I fought through the present-buying hordes. By the end of the day the hordes had died down – in part due to the rain, but in part due to either resignation or achievement.
Somewhere amongst the hubbub, about 4,800 people decided to take half an hour(isn) out to get ready by coming to one of our six Carols on the Hour services. 3,000 people did the same at Gloucester Cathedral last Saturday. The two services I was stewarding at had a “Big Sing” choir who weren’t even a choir six weeks ago, yet had spent every Wednesday since getting ready. Last Wednesday, carols at The Boot saw several hundred people come and go – and stay rather longer than they planned for the sheer joy of carolling with each other.
Yes, some of these may have been more or less devout than others. Yes, not everyone will have gone home converted to the faith. But each of them has opened their hearts, just a little, to God. Lord, I pray that however we can open the hearts of your people to your message, we do. Maybe they are firm believers; maybe “that’s not for me – I just like the tunes”. Yet somehow they witnessed a warm welcome, the joy of Christmas, and maybe heard something that might strike a chord. From small acorns, great oaks will grow; from a simple shoot from the stem of Jesse came your son who will redeem us all. From the small seeds of our own faith, let us grow in faith to be witnesses to the Word made flesh, amongst us still. Come, thou long expected Jesus…
Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.