Light your candle every time you pray in Advent. You may need to get more candles. That would be great. This common practice will unite us in the darkening days. Shine your light on social media using #HowWeHope as often as you need to feel the connection. You are not alone. The Lord is near. We are near.
Today’s Bible reading
Read Isaiah 1
Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
More thoughts for meditation
Life Seems Unaware
Once again the smell of death rides on the winds
And fear lurks within the shadows of the mind.
One by one the moments tick away.
Days and nights are interludes
Between despairing hope and groping faith.
Of this bleak desolation, Life seems unaware:
Seeds still die and live again in answer to their kind;
Fledgling birds awake to life from prison house of shell;
Flowers bloom and blossoms fall as harbingers of fruit to come;
The newborn child comes even on the wings of death;
The thoughts of men are blanketed by dreams
Of tranquil days and peaceful years,
When love unfettered will keep the heart and mind
In ways of life that crown our days with light.
— Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations
Christmas could be an escape from reality—a detestable New Moon feast. Twinkly lights and jolliness might be a nice paper bridge stretched over the dark valley of the year. The early Christmas lights that went up two or even three weeks ago are a testament to that desire, perhaps, but they do not have to be. When held in tension with the actual darkness, the wearisome burdens of this life, and our full understanding of this world of woe, the early Christmas lights are the waking “dreams of tranquil days and peaceful years, when love unfettered will keep the heart and mind in ways of life that crown our days [and even our nights] with light.”
Suggestions for action
Shine some light on the darkness of 2020. Do not ignore whatever death you smell, or whatever lurking fear resides in the shadows of your mind. Make sure that your Christmas lights (even the metaphorical ones if you do not have any) are not a burden to the One to whom we spread our hands in pray. You can be sure they are not by simple honesty about what is. That is shining light on the darkness. Redeem the New Moon feast with truth, light, faith and justice. Do right by the year by calling it what it is and calling out for more. Then you are Isaiah. Then you are Howard Thurman. Strangely, by being aware, we embrace the power of Life that courses on despite our sorrow.
Plan to join us for the Lamentations of Right Now tomorrow morning, December 5 at 8:30 am on Zoom. This is a time for communal lament, because we are finding that lament is #HowWeHope.
Details at circleofhope.net/advent