The Fourth Sunday of Advent / Luke 1:39-55
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For today’s message, we will begin with listening to the song, ‘Sanctuary’ sung by Carrie Newcomer. We’ve talked about Advent with the metaphor, Home, while we have reflections during this season. Now this fourth Sunday of Advent, we will think about ‘Sanctuary’, where or who is a sanctuary, a safe place for us. So, pay attention to what this song says about sanctuary while you listen to the song.
The lyrics say, “Will you be my refuge, my haven in the storm, Will you keep the embers warm when my fire’s all but gone? Will you remember, and bring me sprigs of rosemary, Be my sanctuary ’til I can carry on, carry on, carry on. . .” And it is continued in the song that she lists places, experiences, or metaphors what sanctuary might mean for her or for all. “rest here in Brown Chapel… with a circle of friends… a quiet grove of trees.. between two bookends”… She lists these as safe spaces, uplifting and welcoming. For me, I would include lying in a hammock on a quiet afternoon in summer, or knitting, snuggling with my kids, centering prayer. Think about what would your list include. You may want to include baking, your grandma’s kitchen, painting, or the arms of a loved one…. Wherever it is, sanctuary is a place where God’s love dwells abundantly.
In today’s scripture, we see a pregnant woman, Mary, was looking for a place like a sanctuary, safe place. Let’s see the story.
The angel Gabriel has just told Mary that she has been chosen and favored by God, that God is with her, that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her, that she will conceive and give birth to a son, the Son of God, and she will name him Jesus. As soon as Gabriel makes his announcement, Mary also departs, departs with haste. She couldn’t waste time and headed out for a long journey.
We don’t know, but maybe she is excited and wants to share this good news and celebrate it. Or maybe she is afraid and doesn’t know what to do next and is looking for some guidance. We all have had that kind of experience, right? Or maybe she wants help in figuring out how to tell and deal with Joseph and her family. Maybe she just wants to get away for a while from rumors that possibly would happen in town. Maybe she wants to talk with someone who will understand. Anyway, with a reason or thousands of reasons, Mary leaves with haste. Let’s take a moment here, thinking of our life. Have you ever been in times in your life when you were looking for something or someone to stand with you in the midst of the unexpected and unfamiliar? Maybe the first day, first week or first year of being a married person, or a divorced person, a parent, a widow… and when you didn’t know what to do..? or maybe it was a time when you felt strange like a time that you did or said something and you knew that wasn’t really who you are or who you want to be. or at a new position at your work place or new place to live… To me it took a long time to start finally feeling like myself in this country.
And you might have chances that someone offered you an opportunity that you had never before considered possible, and someone was there for you just to listen and understand. Or Someone might have seen something in you, a gift, a capability, a possibility, that you had never seen or imagined for yourself. For Mary that person was Elizabeth.
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