Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
—Romans 10: 5-13
“The word is near you, on your lips and on your heart.”
Wow! On our lips and on our hearts! But Christmas is closer—only three days away!—and you may be in the midst of the last-minute frenzy. Two days left to shop, wrap, bake, travel… not to mention the Christmas Eve service, pageant, and Christmas morning service. Isn’t there a law against Christmas falling on Sunday? There just isn’t enough time!!! STOP. “The word is near you, on your lips and on your heart.”
Why are we doing this? Why are we engaged in this craziness of getting ready? We are supposed to be waiting for the birth of a baby. Babies come when they are ready. Mary had craziness going on around her: a census, traveling while pregnant, packing supplies and food, not knowing where they would stay, not knowing if she would deliver her child during the trip. We can’t know how she felt, but we can guess that she felt some craziness about getting ready. But she did it; she trusted the word on her lips and in her heart. God had promised her a son, and she trusted the word of God.
Maybe we can sit back and wait for that baby. Isn’t that what Advent is really about? Let’s stop and feel the word near us, on our lips and in our hearts. Let’s concentrate on what we can do to celebrate the gift that has transformed the world; the gift that is still transforming the world through the power of God’s love; the gift that is in us and around us and that works through us. Let’s celebrate that transformative work of the ever-creating God.
You’ve probably bought enough. The wrappings only stay on for moments. (I have a friend who only wraps the top of boxes!) Do we really need an extra dozen cookies? Christmas cards? Call them New Year’s greetings because they’ll get read more thoroughly after Christmas.
Let’s concentrate of sharing the love on our lips and on our hearts, the wildly extravagant, never-ending, bigger-than-we-can-dream-of love of God, incarnate in a baby, quietly, humbly, born to give us hope and love forever.
Terri Gibbons is a member in discernment in the United Church of Christ. She is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology and plans to serve her ministry as a Chaplain for end-of-life care.