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

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.—Luke 2:8-9

More thoughts for meditation

The shepherds are part of a tradition, part of a story, part of a people that is waiting for the very announcement that comes. They are part of a nation that has held on to the endurance and faithfulness of God’s love, and they expect, once again to be liberated from their captivity, this time by the Romans. As such, they expect that announcement that’s about to come. But how it comes is unexpected, and when it does, they are afraid—terrified even. The Glory of God comes in a light-filled sky to discarded members of society, these lowly shepherds, who are probably not even watching sheep they own. The magnificence of God displayed first to the lowliest of the society. What they don’t know is that God will enter into their frailty, their humanity, as a baby. And so while they may have faith for their deliverance, they have no idea how it will come. God is always surprising the ones who fear God. The shepherds believe that they redemption comes, but how God works is often mysterious.

Suggestions for action

Have you ever had an announcement that you were anticipating arrive in an unexpected way? Today, welcome the mystery and the surprise. You may be tempted to expand your imagination so as not to be surprised, and that is a good exercise unto itself, but also give yourself the grace to be surprised and the faith to accept it when you are. Maybe you have an idea for how God will redeem you from whatever present captivity you are in, but hold out hope for something new to surprise you, even during this plague we are all in.