8 December 2021 at Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Naples, FL
Genesis 3, 9-15, 20 + Ephesians 1, 3-6, 11 + Luke 1, 26- 38
With this great feast we are called to step out of our ordinary daily routines and pause for these few minutes to let the Word of God remind us of God’s plan for creation. Paul puts that plan in plain and simple language as he writes to the Ephesians. God has chosen us to be holy and without blemish. God destined us for adoption which in the society and culture of that time meant nothing more than a completely new existence. In that world at that time, when one was adopted, their entire old identity was wiped away. If there were debts, they no longer existed. If there was anything in the past that could spoil the future, it was gone.
What this feast day urges us to do is call to mind our adoption. What must be affirmed today is the will of God that we be holy which is the whole purpose of our adoption. As with many who are adopted into earthly families, there is often a desire to know about the past, and perhaps that is why we open the third chapter of Genesis today. It’s the story of our past, and it’s not pretty. These verses we have just heard tell of losing our holiness.
Way too often, there is some mistaken idea that holiness has to do with prayers, or some extraordinary kind of service or sacrifice like martyrdom. If that’s the case, most of us are in trouble. What we can discover from this great Feast Day is that those who are holy are simply close to God, and everything that is good somehow flows out of that intimate relationship. The truly holy are then those who choose to be close to God. We see in the verses of Genesis today that the close and intimate relationship those first created persons had with God was broken. Leaving God to begin what is in time a long search for a way to restore that holiness for which we were created.
The woman we honor here today was holy. Her relationship with God made her so. She did not earn it by doing something. Her willingness to accept her calling is a consequence of her holiness in God’s eyes. She does not say, “Yes” and then earn her favor and holiness. It’s the other way around. Because she is already holy and chosen, she is willing to accept the unknown, unimaginable, and maybe frightening request.
She teaches us today what holiness looks like. She teaches us how a chosen people stand open to the sometimes strange and unexpected ways of God. She teaches us today what it means to be adopted, because our past is over and forgotten. We are a new people with what Paul calls a “new inheritance”. As Paul says, now we exist for one purpose: for the praise of God’s Glory. And so we can say again and again: Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be!