It’s hard to imagine that November 29th is almost upon us [Advent I]. Our season to observe and reflect and mark the truth that Emmanuel, God-with-us, came to us once and that Emmanuel is still with us setting our hearts on Love and lighting our way.
As we hurt deeply, as COVID continues to keep us physically distant and searching for life-giving ways to connect, as political divisions amp up, as refugees still live in unknown and terrible conditions [please do add more thoughts here] … I believe Advent offers us a gift.
We enter Advent because we are in tune with everything that’s going on around us and need to celebrate the coming of Christ as a babe in a humble manger in a troubled world. We light candles, read scripture, know the Love of God because we have lived and continue to live tough times.
Advent is for the ones who grieve. Advent is for the ones who are longing. Advent is for everyone who chooses to believe that the hope, the peace, the joy and the love is possible and ever so real and of God.
Psalm 89:2-3 reads, “I’ll never quit telling the story of your love - how you built the cosmos and guaranteed everything in it. Your love has always been our lives’ foundation, your fidelity has been the roof over the world.”
Advent reminds us that God is present and that God seeks us out as we are right now. Be open to that gift dare I say. God meets us where we are, not where we think we need to be. God seeks us out in these wilderness times and just as in ancient times we lean in to hear the prophets call: “Courage! Take Heart! God is here, really here!”
In this note, you will find a bookmark for all our Advent/Christmas and Epiphany readings and an Advent calendar that I hope you will place somewhere prominent in your home throughout the season. I’m already looking forward to lighting my wee battery operated candles each Sunday and committing myself to each day’s opportunity. November 30th reads, “ask a loved one how you can pray for them this week”. I already know that I will be asking more than one and so deeply appreciate the encouragement to participate in meaningful connection.
Here’s a thought, perhaps this year we can enter into Advent waiting like our biblical midwives did and midwives still do. Like midwives, we can wait with compassion, we can wait telling stories, and we can wait because new life is coming. “Midwives teach us that waiting is an act of resistance and healing. Rushing birth, hurrying the process, endangers everyone and so waiting can be a discipline that releases and then makes healing on the other side a bit more likely. Midwives teach us … there can be seasons of easy waiting and where waiting nearly tears the soul from our body and we have the capacity for both.” Sarah Bessey wrote these words and believes that midwives have taught her to hear the heartbeat of God’s possibility teaching her that both lament and joy are sisters as we live with struggle, risk, joy and songs to sing. The poet, Mary Oliver, puts it this way in her collection Evidence “We shake with joy, we shake with grief. What a time they have, these two housed as they are in the same body.
In acknowledging both the joy and the lament, I draw on the wisdom of the Advent wreath. Please note how the light slowly grows to lead us home, to light our ministries, to brighten and bless, to comfort and to lead. Each Sunday, I hope we all light one more candle in our December dark nights daring to know and trust that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it [John 1].
In hope and with love