Fourth Sunday in Advent
“Do you feel what I feel?”
Luke 1: 26-38
The Rev. Leonard B. Oakes
Good morning!! What a lovely smiles you all have today. I ask you extend that smile to the person next and around you for today is the sunday of Love.
Today is the last Sunday in advent, 6 more days, 6 more days and it’s Christmas!!! Do you feel it? Do you feel what I feel? What have you been preparing for? What have you been in search of? Is it going to be the same old Christmas day or is it going to be something new, joyful and loving this time around?
We have been preparing for this time from the beginning of our birth, did you realize that? However old you are now, the love of God has been made alive every year, every advent of another year God blesses us with another life. We are now approaching the end of the cycle to start anew. A cycle that we kept celebrating until that time comes where our Lord Jesus Christ promised to return.
You see, God has created all things good around us. We are part of the ecology of nature God has created. We are dependent from each other. We can’t separate ourselves from the rest of creation otherwise we destroy the whole cycle of life God has entrusted us to take care.
This is a time for us to keep still, just like the rest of the members of the ecology of nature who would spend time to rest, to draw inward energy for the coming season. Let us learn from them, learn to be quite and listen to the voice of God who is calling us to listen to ourselves and the rest of His creation, for the coming of God’s Son in upon us. Do you feel it? Do you feel what I feel? We cannot feel it unless we slow down, be in silence and listen to the voice of God. Be still like the little seed nurturing that which is growing until it spreads its leaves and branches ready to bear fruit in summer.The Hindu philosopher and polymath, Rabindranath Tagore wrote these wonderful words: “Silence my soul, these trees are prayers. I asked the tree, “tell me about God”; then it blossomed.” When we allow ourselves to calm down, be quite and still, we begin to communicate clearly with God and from that connection, we are re-energized and begin to bloom and be a blessing to others. We’ve got to feel it. Do you feel what I feel? Mary learned a lot from her experience with the angel Gabriel in the Gospel according to Luke. The angel said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” “OK?” Mary may have said as initial reaction. But she was more perplexed and questioned the impossibility of the greeting she just heard when the angel told her that she will bear a son whose kingdom will have no end.” One may not be able to paint the facial expression of Mary when she heard this. She said, “What? How can this be since I am a virgin?” Mary is confused. If someone tells you this, would you believe? What would you do? Mary said, “Here I am, let it be with me according to your word.” Mary listened. She learned to be in silence and allowed her heart and ears to listen to the voice of God. She trusted the voice of the angel to be the word of God and because of the trust and faith of Mary; she is hailed as the favored one. Let us follow the example of Mary. Let us also trust in God. Even when it is difficult to trust others, even when others try to take Christmas away from us because it does not give them any sense, let us pray for them so that we may become a beacon of change and agents of God’s love. Today, we’ve lighted the candle of love to remind us that God is love that he sent His son for us that we might once again, be one with him. We thank God for the hope he gives us, for the peace he bestows, for the joy he pours into our hearts, and for the love that redeems us and shows us the way. My loving friends in Christ let us be reminded that love is the most important part of the Christmas story. Love is why Christ came here in the first place. It is the love of God that brings us the hope and the peace and the joy that we need. And it is our love for one another in Christ’s name – that makes Christmas worthwhile. Let us be forgiving. Think about the life after our earthly life; think about where we would be when the end of our world comes. Let bitterness leave us and love abides instead. For what profits a person if he or she has everything but losses her soul before God because he or she does not know love? Let us not forget that we are ever walking in the eyes of God and whatever we do that sets us apart from loving each other is also separating us from His Love. Let not the remaining days of our lives fall into the pit of destruction. Love is the reason why we are living, let us give Love a place in our hearts and let harmony prevail. In the movie based on Charles Dicken’s novel Oliver, there was this young boy living in an orphanage who got caught up with an unruly gang of thieves led by an evil old man. On one of the scenes, this boy was thrown into the dungeon and witnessed the cruelty of the evil old man when he witnessed children being starved to death and longing for care and love. My heart began to shrink when he started singing this song: Where is love? Does it fall from skies above? Is it underneath the willow tree that I’ve been dreaming of? Where is she? Who I close my eyes to see? Will I ever know the sweet “hello” that’s only meant for me? Who can say where she may hide? Must I travel far and wide? ‘Til I am beside the someone who I can mean something to …Where…? Where is love?
My brothers and sisters in Christ, as you finish your preparations for Christmas and getting ready to welcome our Lord Jesus Christ in your heart, Think of all the children in the world longing for love, longing for you to reach out to them and make them feel loved. Our very own Lyle Richardson has an orphanage in Russia. Share your gifts to those children this Christmas. Hold on to your children so close as if you don’t want to let go. Make them feel loved. Listen to their cry and let your heart guide them.Remember our elders this Christmas, those who are lonely and isolated. They long for our presence. They miss the very moments we are now enjoying. Feel them, feel their needs. Do you feel it? Do you feel what I feel? Do you hear what I hear? I hear God telling us, “Greetings, favored ones, the Lord is with you! Listen! Love is all around you, share them to others.” When we listen, may we say, “Here I am, let it be with me according to your word.” Amen.