Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

The fourth in a series of Advent Reflections by Bishop Lane

This is the last in my series of short Advent reflections.  To watch, click HERE.


There are a bunch of miracles associated with Christmas: That Mary said, “Yes.” That Jesus was born of a human mother and a divine father. That Joseph treated his betrothed with such compassion and generosity. That the baby in the manger is the Savior of the world. Lots of miracles.


What strikes me about the story of Jesus’ birth, however, as it is recorded in Matthew for the fourth Sunday of Advent, is how ordinary people behaved in ways that we all can behave, but usually don’t.


Mary, little more than a teenager, found the courage to say, “Yes” to God because she thought it was right because she couldn’t say, “No,” despite not quite understanding how it would all happen. And Joseph found the compassion and the generosity – with a little divine nudging – to take Mary in despite the hit his reputation might take. And they together created a home for the Savior of the world.


Jesus often speaks of the reign of God, the new creation of God, as something very small, like a mustard seed, that takes root and grows into something unexpectedly large. It starts in a small and ordinary way, little noticed, of no real significance, but by faith becomes something extraordinary. The new creation in Christ began just this way, in the simple actions of Mary and Joseph.


And that, I think, is what Advent asks of us ordinary folks. A little bit of faith. Some simple acts of trust and compassion. Making room in our hearts and our lives for the possibility of a better way. Do we have to know with certainty that Jesus is coming? No. But we might have a glimmer of hope that he is. And having that hope, we might find the energy, the courage, the compassion to do our little bit, to be in our small way a sign that a better world is coming.


On Christmas Eve, the world will sigh over the child in the manger, another little sign of God’s presence, a small light in the stable. And we will be asked to carry our little light out into the great and dark world. Mary and Joseph lit their lights by the ways they trusted in God. And that’s our call as well.


May this season of Advent be a time for us to claim the faith that is in us, for us to be a glimmer of light in the darkness. May we love God and neighbor as though the future depends on it, as signs of the Christ who is coming.