RCL Year A Advent 4
Isaiah 7:10-16, Psalm 80:1-7 and 16-18, Romans 1:1-7, Saint Matthew 1:18-25

This is the fourth Sunday we have gathered together and lighted another candle on the Advent Wreath. We begin a fourth week of Preparation to meet the Lord when he comes.

We do this every year to prepare to meet the Lord, when we remember how he came as a child so long ago in Bethlehem, when Joseph was told by an angel of the Lord how Mary’s child was conceived from the Holy Spirit and how he should not be afraid to take her as his wife. And every year, also, we prepare to meet him when he comes to be our Judge, at the end of time, when he shall come again to claim his own who truly love him.

These are the two main advents, or comings, of Christ. But there is at least one other advent, and this third advent of Christ is the message, the Good News, for today. The third advent of Christ is the spiritual birth of grace in the individual human soul, the birth of faith in Christ and of good will toward every human being. Christ makes himself known every day to those who call upon him, to those who ask him in, and to those who invite him into their lives. December 25 isn’t your only opportunity, but you should use all of the opportunities you have. Christ can be born in your heart today and every day. This third advent, this third coming of Christ, finds expression in today’s Collect: “Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation.”[1]

Every Christmas I find myself offering this exact prayer: that the people who come here to worship in our church and at our crib will take away with them the understanding that their heart is a manger, too. Christ is willing and even eager to make his home there.

If not today, then tomorrow, or the next day, invite him in. In the words of the great Christmas hymn, “let every heart prepare him room.”[2] Give him that place in your life which God gave you to give to him and to him alone. Give him that place, and the next words of that same hymn will come to pass, “heaven and nature sing.”

[1] Prayer Book, page 212.

[2] The Hymnal 1982, Hymn 100, Stanza 1.