Preaching on zoom in our church involves a practice with the zoom master (a new liturgical term) at 9:30 am, which involves all those taking part to ensure seamless interchanges between different speakers in their homes. I was ready to join on time when my laptop announced that I had no internet connection. Fortunately, this happens rarely. Fairly calmly I rebooted the house internet. This has worked before! Not this time. Less calmly, as an IT rabbit, I attempted to reconnect as Carol kept urging me to call John, our main church zoom master.
Eventually, I did call and John immediately invited me to preach from his own office housed in their attic. Readers of this blog will know of my GPS fortunes (!) and I put his postcode in the Garmin with a little foreboding as time was running out. And, alas, I was led to the wrong house though John charged down the road to retrieve me. I was the first person in their home since lockdown but John (masked) said to me (masked) this was an emergency and surely allowable.
His equipment is professional though I needed to be careful - since I like to stand I had to mind my head on the sloping roof! And so, in surprising circumstances, I was able to share in a very well planned service led by two friends from Brazil who lit the first candle and shared something of Advent in Brazil. My sermon on Luke 1:1-35 was on 5 names and 4 births. The 5 names are obvious though it remains remarkable that Gabriel's God-zapping intervention lasted only a few minutes and the rest of the story is of God working through ordinary human ways to change history.
It's worth asking also how many births matter at Advent. Obviously, Jesus (though too often he is ignored). Luke's history insists that John is critical too with his being the first advent nativity. Then it's you and me - in God's long term planning we are included. And the fourth birth is the second birth, being born anew in the love, forgiveness and power of Jesus. I was able to include the testimony of one of our housegroup members to illustrate how God's Spirit works through ordinary human ways to change history and change us.
Angelus Silesius put it this way: Christ could be born a thousand times in Galilee....but all is vain until He is born in me.