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Tonight is our second Advent movie night. Come and enjoy a cup of coffee or cocoa and a couple of Christmas cookies. We’re watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, beginning at 6:30.
How would you like to be a spotted elephant?
Or a choo-choo with square wheels on your caboose?
Or a water pistol that shoots jelly?
We’re all misfits!
In the secret corners of ourselves, we all know our own shortcomings. Deep inside, we each have moments when we feel that we aren’t really good enough; that we don’t really fit in. We harbor fears of being rejected. And so we know it is true: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.(paraphrase of Romans 3:23)
The birth of Jesus offers us release from all our fears, forgiveness of all our shortcomings, and new freedom in Him. Even as Mary echoes the prophet Isaiah in her Magnificat, hearing the Good News assures us that new life is at hand. Mary responds to the angel’s announcement:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Upon hearing the angel’s news that she, a young woman, engaged but not yet married, would be put in the even worse position of being pregnant without a husband – virtually condemned to be unacceptable and poor for all the rest of her life – hearing this news, believed the angel: believed the news was from God, and that no matter how astonishing it was, it would be true, and that God would remain with her. It would not matter if other people rejected her, because God blessed her. She was released from the prisons she might have constructed in her own mind, and from the prison of worrying about what other people might think.
God addresses God’s people through the prophet Isaiah, reminding us of our long relationship as God’s beloved by calling us by the names of those he has called: “O Jacob….O Israel”. That’s you! Isaiah reports (in Isaiah 43: 1-3a)
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Do not fear, for God has redeemed you by the blood of his only Son. You have been set free!