Bulletin December 24
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Fullness is an experience we glimpse only briefly in this world. Once in a while, the tank is full of gas, the pantry shelves are stocked, our appetites are completely satisfied. But then the world keeps spinning, and we have to search out more gas, more groceries, more food. God designed us to be satisfied with nothing less than eternity; God alone provides fullness. Today’s readings praise God for being everything, at all times, to everyone. King David learns that God alone has the power to order history to fulfill the divine plan. Saint Paul praises God’s glory “forever and ever” for bringing salvation not just to the Israelites, but to all nations. Sweetest of all, Mary learns that God has filled her with grace. Mary is uniquely capable of holding God’s fullness in her flesh—a fullness so vibrant that it becomes a child, our Lord Jesus Christ.
“What could happen?” That question affects each of us differently. Some of us are thrill-seekers, diving into unfamiliar territory with no regard for obstacles or dangers; others have learned from painful experience that the future may hold suffering or disaster. This last, brief Sunday of Advent emboldens us. Our readings remind us that our God is the God of possibilities. And while God’s care does not guarantee that we will not encounter suffering, we can absolutely count on God’s power to raise us to glory.
Truly, God creates us for glory. The burdens of daily life can shrink our hopes, but we must remember that we are made for nothing less than infinite glory. Who could have believed that the beleaguered Israelite nation could defeat all of its enemies? And yet our first reading today proclaims that God gave David “rest from his enemies on every side.” Who could hope to unify the entire world in obedience to one Messiah? And yet Saint Paul insists that the “only wise God” has revealed salvation through Jesus to all people. Who could expect one young woman to decide the course of human history? And yet the angel tells Mary that her yes will establish a kingdom to endure forever.
We know, of course, that Israel did not maintain its peace. Even today, that area of the world is far from stable. We also recognize the wide variety of world religions that do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the true savior. Though God has set us on the path to fullness and glory, we are still broken. Our danger lies not in hoping for too much, but in trusting too little in God. God can resurrect any darkness—replacing terror with peace, healing ancient wounds, uniting families, bringing stability to chaos. This is the message of Christmas. God can, and will, do everything to cover the world in love.