Nativity by Solomija Krushynska

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:

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

John 16:20-24

More thoughts for meditation:

One of my favorite things is to observe nativity art from around the world. In every language and culture it seems there is a representation of the miracle of the incarnation. What hope it brings that God came to look and be like each of us in our own time and place, to bridge the gap between us in order to demonstrate the way of self-giving love. From sunny island scenes with palm trees to dark and snowy scenes like this one from the Ukraine, we observe the wonder of Emmanuel, God-with-us

What happens, though, when Emmanuel grows up and dies a brutal and excruciating death right in front of us? What was God thinking? How could he ask so much? What happens when 70 years after the civil rights movement, Black people are still being shot by police in our streets and racism still has an insidious hold on every aspect of our lives? What happens when we’re experiencing 9 months of isolation in a pandemic, experiencing a level of loneliness we never knew existed? How do we endure?

Mary’s journey was filled with honor and wonder but it was also filled with unspeakable loss and questions. Maybe we have an opportunity to see something deeper about Christmas this year.

Suggestions for action:

Ponder the Pieta by Michaelangelo below. Mary is grieving. This is not what she expected when the angel told her she was highly favored. Was she duped? Should she give up? I am sure that part of her wanted to die with her son. 

But notice her left hand open to God. There is nothing in it except hope for a miracle. And a miracle she did see; death did not hold her son forever. She went on to plant the early church in the power of his Spirit, and saw the miracle of many lives saved and transformed. 

Know that God sees your suffering right now. He suffers with you. Pray for faith to endure. Pray for a miracle. Hold your hand open like Mary.