Brother Eric. The Visitation, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved December 24, 2021]. Original source:

RCL Year C, Advent 4
Micah 5:2-5a, Canticle 15, Hebrews 10:5-10, Saint Luke 1:39-45

I have noticed that we have no more Advent candles to light. We have lit the fourth and final candle. It is entirely appropriate to think we are coming to the end, the end of a season, the end of a long wait for Christmas, and even the end of time. All of these ends have been quietly germinating in Advent’s soft and fertile soil. But it’s coming to an end, and whatever we were supposed to have accomplished in Advent, we are running out of time in which to do it.

As the end of Advent draws near, the Church gives us a charming and seemingly inconsequential Gospel to be our Good News. Mary has been given the news that she will bear a Son miraculously, and as she learns this, she learns that her cousin, Elizabeth, also, will bear a son miraculously. Whatever promise or hope Mary and Elizabeth have based their lives on, is gone. They are both given a new mission, and a new hope. And that hope is God’s plan to bring salvation to the world.

Maybe the lighting of the fourth candle means that we still have time to put aside whatever hope we have based our lives on. Maybe it is the hope that money in the bank gives us security. Maybe it is the hope that our family guarantees us our happiness. Maybe it is the hope that having friends buys us a wonderful life.

These hopes, these promises, we have invented for ourselves. What would it be like to base our lives on God’s promise? We heard a version of God’s promise in the first lesson. Micah prophesies that a child will be born, and “he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord.” And the flock “shall live secure.”[1] That child is the one Mary carries to greet Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s child is the one who prepares his way.

What would it be like to base our lives on this promise rather than a promise we invented for ourselves? When Mary greets Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s child leaps within her. It seems as though nothing is happening. But God is bringing about his promise to us, the very promise that we can choose to base our lives on. The child that Micah foretold is about to be born. God’s promise of redemption for his people is about the be accomplished. David’s greater Son, Jesus, will provide salvation to Abraham and all of Abraham’s children, from generation to generation, all of whom lived in the shadow of death.

The days left before the end of Advent and before time itself ends are enough. They provide enough time to put our hope in God’s promise to save us. When we do take him at his word is the moment we truly begin to live.

[1] Micah 5:3.