Reflection by Sheila Burton, a parishioner
"Shout for joy.....The Lord, your God is in your midst...."
"Rejoice in the Lord always....The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all...."
"Your kindness should be known to all...."
"Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise. "
When the angel came to Mary to tell her she had been chosen by God, he called her Mary, "full of grace." I am thinking that those three words hold so much for us. Grace. It is what we desire. It is the gift of God's presence. Mary was full of grace, full of God, and out of this sprung forth the words of the magnificat. She couldn't help herself. She was filled with so much joy, so much God, it could not be contained: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior."
It seems to me that being full of grace, full of God, as much as we can be, continually striving for this, should be our heart's desire, our goal. And the closer we get to being full, the more we experience the presence of God within, the more we will not be able to contain ourselves. And the joy spoken about in the first and second readings today will burst forth from us. Our souls will proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Our spirits will rejoice in God our savior.
And we will not only rejoice at the God in our midst, but our kindness will be known to all. If we are full of grace, full of God, it will not be possible for us to keep two cloaks when we see someone in the cold with none. If we are full of grace, full of God, it will not be possible for us to store up more food than we need if we know someone who is hungry. It would be unthinkable. The boundaries that separate us from those around us will be erased if we are full of God and the needs of others will become our need.
Christmas is almost upon us. God in our midst. That is the gift of Christmas. Let us pray that we will be open to this fullness of grace, this fullness of God, so that we too can exclaim, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior!"
+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.