None of us likes to be called out of our comfort zone. We tend to resist change. Yet the message of the Scripture over and over again is that our God is always calling us to change, to a new place, where God can be revealed to us more fully. As we come to the end of Advent this truth is brought before us. This year the Gosepl reading for this Sunday is the annunciation to Joseph. (Matthew 1:18-25) In other years the annunciation to Mary is featured, but in both cases we have people who have their wedding plans made, everything all figured out, and God intervenes calling them in a new direction, a wonderful direction to be sure, but nonetheless in upheaval in each of their lives. The Scriptures are filled with such stories--the calls of the prophets, the call of the apostles, etc.
Granted that you and I are not likely to have anything happen to us quite as dramatic as what happens to Mary and Joseph in these Gospel accounts, but I do know that in my own experience over the years that my greatest times of opening to God have been times of change, whether it was going to Bolivia, and then returning, accepting an assignment to the Ministry of the Word which I thought would be temporary. (It is now 23 years and counting, and constant change within that 23 years.), or having injury and sickness come my way, though fortunately not too much so far.
Christmas is coming, a time up gift-giving. Most of us say that we like to be surprised by the gits we receive. Perhaps true, but are we open to God's surprises in our life. Those surprises, though mixed with challenge and difficulty, are times when our relationship with our God truly deepens and grows.
Come Emmanuel, we say and sing, but do we really mean it?
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