The Fourth Sunday of Advent

I have no idea how it happened. Literally. No idea. No brain function. No memory. No recollection. It was all about cheese. I was in the supermarket getting some groceries and using the instore app so you can scan and pack then and there. I reached for the cheese and saw two types and I told myself that I didn’t want one with the blue writing but the one with the green writing. My hand went the box containing all the green writing packets, grabbed one, flipped it, scanned it, and put it in my bag. When I got home I pulled out a blue writing packet! I’m a magician! (I’m in an idiot!) But above all, I’m curious.

I’d be interested to hear what the doctor, the neuroscientist, or the psychologist might say to ‘fill in the gaps’. (Any views really.) I might agree or disagree – some might ‘gel’ with me more than others, square
with my experience of life; while other views I might resist more. Who knows? That’s what experience, knowledge, education, and growing are all about –how to understand the ‘now’, the moment, the situation.

In the Christmas story, our focus is usually on the baby Jesus. Babies do tend to steal the limelight and upstage the adults. However this Sunday just be-
fore the nativity, our Gospel from Luke takes us to the scene with Mary and Gabriel. Mary knew how she became pregnant; it is the world that simply didn’t believe her. And she had to live with everyone having to ‘fill in the gaps’ to make sense of her story. Mary is an example of trusting God’s Word irrespective of how it might make us look. And in thinking about this
Christmas – which I expect will be similar but also quite different to many Christmases – I have been drawn to Mary’s ‘pondering’ and ‘treasuring’ (Luke 2:19, 51) because it seems to me that she is processing what is happening and trying to understand it. She is aligning her experiences with what God has said. How she did it at the foot of the cross, I’ll never know!
(Where is the truth in Gabriel’s words now – about Jesus being the Son of the Most High whose kingdom will reign forever? But the old man Simeon spoke the truth when he said that a sword would pierce her heart.)

Of course it all makes sense – by that I mean the words now ring true – and the truth is simply amazing – when Jesus rose from the dead! Then Mary could legitimately have said to the world, ‘See I told you how Jesus was conceived!’. In the past – and maybe still today – it is felt that Christians should defend the Virgin Birth as a foundation to the story of Jesus. That
misses the point in my view. What we should be proclaiming is Jesus dead on a cross and his empty tomb – him alive again having defeated death because then any strange conception isn’t as unbelievable as the message of the defeat of death’s power and the promise of the mercy of God. And if that isn’t the foundation of Christmas, what’s the point of remembering it at all?

I have no idea how my blue lettered cheese came home. But I do have an idea how the Son of God comes among us and still makes his home with us – and as incredible as it sounds, the story of a cross and an empty tomb and what comes before and after is worth pondering and treasuring. GS