“The Angels’ Song”
This week, when I met with the Advent Devotional Study groups, the opening thought to ponder, given to us in the guide, was this question: “When were you last surprised amid your ordinary routine?”
And when I asked the question, I was met with silence… It took some time for folks to think back and remember some pleasant surprises or good news they had received in years past.
But it was clear that, for most of us, our daily lives are pretty ordinary. We work, we volunteer, we spend time with family or friends. Some of us have some hobbies, groups we attend, sports we play or watch. And, of course, we practice our faith.
We go to church, or we participate online. We read scripture and think about what it means for us. We pray for our own needs and for our neighbours. We give our time and our gifts for the work of the church and other good missions beyond it. Our lives are pretty ordinary.
Angie Song reminds us that “the whole Christmas narrative has ‘ordinary’ written all over it – that is, until God shows up. The story of the shepherds is no exception. It’s another ordinary night at their everyday job in the typical place with the usual sheep…
“Shepherds of first-century Judea had no real standing or influence in their society. But the biblical story turns this on its head. The significant people in this narrative are those who hear and respond to God. They are the ones who are most important.”
Of course, the ordinary shepherds would soon have a big story to tell when someone asked them when they were last surprised amid their ordinary routine.
“It was that night, out in the fields,” they would say, “When we saw a vision and heard a message from God. A choir of angels told us about a baby who had been born, and that he would save the world! They sang, ‘Glory to God! And peace on earth, good will to all people.’ And our evening quickly turned from ordinary and boring to terrifying and awe-inspiring.”
Part of the message of Advent is that God can come to any of us anytime, anywhere. It doesn’t depend on us being particularly important, or holy, or even religious. But it does depend on us being willing to notice, to listen, and to respond as the shepherds did.
First, we will be called to worship this Christmas – to go and visit the Christ Child who has been born into our world. Because Jesus has come to be God-With-Us, with all of us ordinary people, and to make sure we know that we are deeply, deeply loved.
Come to this place. Come into the sanctuary, or find a quiet space to worship online at home, and we will tell each other again and again, as many times as we need to hear it. In our words, and in our songs, and in our prayers, and in the hugs we share with each other – we will proclaim that God loves us ordinary people, and Christ came into the world for us.
And once we know that, once that truth of God’s amazing grace and love for us in all our ordinariness has seeped into our hearts, then we will be sent out. Just as the shepherds were sent to tell the good news, we are sent also – to share the joy and to spread the love of God all over.
As we were preparing for Advent and Christmas at First Church this year, we did a lot of the ordinary things that we usually do. We had an Advent Party, we sent cards, we prepared packages for our homebound members, and we planned lots of fun worship with great music and candles and carols for all ages.
But we also did something new – something that might even have been surprising to folks who were paying attention and noticed.
When we were choosing a special mission to support with our Christmas gifts in memory of our loved ones, we picked something new. A member of our Mission & Outreach Committee suggested a local organization that could really use our support and encouragement this year.
Lulu’s Lodge is a Regina Shelter for 2SLGBTQI+ youth who may not be welcome in their own families anymore. The Lodge provides a safe place for youth who might otherwise find themselves living on the street. It also offers support to other queer youth who have homes, but need encouragement amidst the rampant discrimination and hatred they so often experience in our society.
It seems to me that our donations of hats and mitts and toiletries, and our gifts of money, and our prayers for the staff and the young people of Lulu’s Lodge will be one beautiful response to God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.
Like the shepherds, we have heard God’s message of love, and we are sent out to tell the good news, and to share God’s love, and to live as people who participate with God in making peace on earth for all people. And this is one of the ways that we can respond together this Christmas.
There are other ways too, for ordinary people like us, who live ordinary lives, and know that God loves us and all the other ordinary people too… There are other ways that we are being sent to share the good news this Christmas.
Is there someone to whom God is sending you – to befriend, to welcome, or to encourage?
Is there something that God is calling you to give that will express God’s love for another ordinary person, or for someone who feels even less than ordinary?
Is there something that God is calling you to say to someone who does not yet know, or who has forgotten, that they are deeply loved?
The angel said to the shepherds, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: To you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
And all the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace, good will to all people.”
This Christmas, let’s sing with the angels, let’s worship with the shepherds, and let’s go out with joy and hope to share God’s love and peace with all. Let’s do it in lots of ordinary ways, and perhaps in some surprising ways too.