Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 16 December 2012
Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18
At Christmas time we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, the Lord in our midst. John the Baptist tells the people how to prepare for God’s coming among them – they are to share what they have, not try to work the system for their own benefit, and to be content. That’s good advice in this crazy Christmas season when we are bombarded with advertisements that strive to create in us a sense of lack, and to fuel our acquisitiveness. John the Baptist invites us to prepare by being generous, honest and content. What kind of space are we in as we prepare for the mystery of Christmas?
Generosity and contentment come easily if we know we are loved. A spirituality that is judgemental of self, that feeds our sense of guilt and unworthiness, does not open our hearts toward others or to God. I love the prophet Zephaniah’s call to joy. We are told to rejoice, not to fear or be discouraged, because the Lord has removed judgement from us. Our worthiness is not earned, it is gift. We can rejoice because God rejoices over us with singing. What an amazing image! We make the Lord sing and croon with delight. I think of a mother with her baby, the little one gurgling with delight as it basks in the radiance of its mother’s enraptured smile.
On the third Sunday of Advent we light a rose-coloured candle, the colour of joy, to remind us of the rejoicing at the heart of the season. We’re not supposed to get too solemn! If the God in our midst whose coming in Christ we celebrate and look forward to is a God who finds us utterly delightful, how can we respond except with joy?