Fourth Sunday in Advent

I send out more cards and letters in the last two weeks of December than I do the rest of the year.  It seems to be a time for reviving relationships and reconnecting with people who have moved off stage and into the shadows of my life.  They were once prominent figures with whom interacted, but now I forget some of the details in their lives and biographies.  It is just more evidence of how fragile and vulnerable relationships can be. They need to be tended and cared for.  To be re-affirmed and revived.

We keep up contacts, but there is something ambiguous about that word.  We can limit it to the superficial and perfunctory.  Most of us depend on the sentiments already printed on a card.  Or we resort to the internet or texting.  The flat words are supposed to bear all the emotional weight we mean. Let’s not get too personal.  That seems like an invasion of privacy.  It might be more than they care to hear.  Quick, temporary, and fragile.  We recently used the term “elevator conversations” in a community dialogue.  It is the minimal exchange we use to be a little sociable while restricting our involvement.  How’s the weather, traffic?  What did you think of that game yesterday?  The exchange is safe, limited, and obvious.

It can turn our that most of our contacts are safe, limited, and obvious.  They protect and affirm our self-understanding.  They reflect our well-being, security, status, financial level, our positions, opinions, and beliefs.  We are like David, at rest from all our enemies and ready to do whatever we have in mind.  Even our conversation with God can limit itself to “elevator talk.”

God’s word to us, his contact with us is seldom a Congratulations for all the wonderful things you have done.   It is I who have done all these things.  His word and contact are generally disturbing.  She was troubled.  How can this be?  The word addresses us personally, calls us by name.  Our name is the whole of our being: how we are seen and known, the unknown, the past, the potential, who we are called to be.  There is a virginal point in the depths of our soul that only comes alive when spoken to by God.  Only God knows that name.  He sees something in us that we don’t see, but are called to acknowledge in our lives and action.  Let it be done to me.  Very personal and invasive of our “privacy.”  We are favored.  Seen and addressed by a God who connects to us in the incarnation of the word  in our lives.  Our history and life are suffused with the life of God and his people.  This is a relationship and contact which changes everything.  It addresses and awakens our admission that we need to trust, to belong, to be appreciated and to appreciate.  This is really emotionally significant conversation. Fear not.  Don’t close the door to the one who stands outside and knocks