Fourth Sunday of Advent - The Abundant Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Lord and giver of life,
you spoke through the prophets,
and they foretold the coming of the Savior.
You came upon the young virgin,
and she conceived in her womb the Son of the Most High.
You gave Elizabeth your gift of knowledge,
and she called Mary “the mother of my Lord.”
You filled John the Baptist with joy at the sound of Mary’s greeting,
and he leaped in his mother’s womb.
We, too, desire your transformative power in our lives.
We ask you to fill us to overflowing so we may
boldly proclaim the coming of Christ,
give birth to him each day in our hearts,
know his presence in all we meet,
and rejoice in the sure knowledge that he has come among us.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, December 23, 2018 - The Spirit Speaks through Elizabeth
Today’s Readings: Micah 5:1–4a; Psalm 80:2–3, 15–16, 18–19; Hebrews 10:5–10; Luke 1:39–45. When we meet Elizabeth in today’s Gospel, she is caught up in astonishing events. She is carrying a child in her old age while her husband, Zechariah, has been rendered mute after questioning an angel who gave him a message that the child would be conceived.
When her relative from Nazareth comes for a visit, Elizabeth grasps that something even greater is now happening. Her baby leaps in her womb; and Elizabeth, bursting with the Holy Spirit, knows at once the news that Mary has come to tell her. She is overwhelmed that her relative has been chosen to bring to birth the promised Messiah, and she recognizes God’s abundant blessing in both Mary and this child.
Mary, who had shared the news from the angel Gabriel with Joseph alone, now hears Elizabeth’s words echoing the words of the angel. Gabriel had called Mary “favored one”; Elizabeth calls her “blessed among women.” The angel had said the child to be born would be “holy, the Son of God”; Elizabeth calls him “Lord” (Luke 1:35).
Both Gabriel and Elizabeth echo Micah’s long-ago prophecy of the Messiah: “his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth: he shall be peace.”
With Christmas nearly here, let us welcome Christ into our hearts with the same joy that Elizabeth did, and pledge to be instruments of his peace in our families and our world.
Monday, December 24 - Giver of All Gifts
Our gifts are bought and ready to be presented to loved ones. David, too, wants to give a gift—a house for God. God reminds David that God is the giver of all gifts, that all David has is from him. God shows his generosity by promising David a different kind of “house”—a kingship through his descendants that will last forever. Jesus, King over all peoples, fulfills the promise. We give thanks for God’s extravagant gift of his Son. Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1–5, 8b–12, 14a, 16; Psalm 89:2–3, 4–5, 27 and 29; Luke 1:67–79.