Grace and Peace to you.
Advent takes on a different feel from the rest of the year: we hang lights, put up decorations, sing about peace and joy. But there always seem to be these dark intrusions into our Christmas preparations: untimely deaths, December tragedies, school shootings, protests over racial injustice, end of the year layoffs.... How unfortunate, we say, that these agonies come right at Christmas time.
But this is the true setting of Christmas. It is into this darkness that God comes to be with us, into our suffering and struggles, into our brokenness and sin, into our loneliness, into our injustice and even into our distracted shallowness and complacency. Christ chooses to be among us not in the grandeur of the temple but in the rough stable of our real lives. The words of the psalms and the prophets that lead us toward Christmas are not happy congratulations, but the lament of the poor, the longing for redemption. The cry of the oppressed, the song of the widow, the silence of the people searching for the way, this is the song of Advent. This is the world that God enters into to accompany, to bless, to heal, to change. The tragedies we lament don't intrude on Christmas: it is Christmas that intrudes on the ways of the world.
Advent is when we lift up our heads in the hospital waiting room and the empty bed, in the tear-gassed streets and embattled towns, in the Ebola wards and refugee camps, in the dark kitchens and the breadlines— and rejoice: it is into this darkness that the Holy One comes to walk with us, into this sorrow, this difficulty, this hope. Here, now, for these people, O come, O come, Emmanuel.
Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve
December 11, 2014