The Holy Gospel: December 23, 2012 (Year C)

Read:  Luke 1:39-45

Meditation:  “Under the Influence.”

Jesus influenced people even before his incarnation.  Mary’s announcement was enough to cause the child in Elizabeth’s womb to leap.  Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Spirit and literally shouted for joy at what she heard.

When Jeannie was pregnant with each of our children, one of her happiest days was when the baby moved in her womb, and from that day until the day of the birth, we would often pause, put our hands on her tummy and feel the baby moving all around.

On this final Sunday in Advent, our hearts are in the “womb of God.”  We are made to “move” (to respond) even at the mention of Jesus.  We call it “conviction,” and it’s the soul’s indicator that we have somehow or other been stirred by God.  Sometimes it’s the celebration which moves our hearts as we express our conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord.  At other times it’s the repentance which comes when our hearts are convicted of sin.  But in whatever form it comes, we “move” under the influence of the Spirit.

As with Mary, Elizabeth, and baby John in Elizabeth’s womb, we can experience these “movements” even before Jesus is born in us.  We call it prevenient grace—the grace of God which influences us even before we profess faith in Christ.

Advent is the season which reminds us that we are “under the influence” of Christ.  We are under his influence even before we personally profess faith in him.  And the fact is, it’s the best influence to be under, because it is not drug-induced, and it does not leave us with a hangover!

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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