Caption: Several candles are burning
Written by: Matt Guynn, Director of Organizing
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!
“O Holy Night,” verse 3
Placide Cappeau/John Sullivan Dwight (trans.)
The annual rhythm of observing Advent and Christmas can shape the soul. In the specific circumstances of every year, we prepare ourselves for love to be born again in our midst. We learn to wait and to hope and to make space for Christ to appear.
This year, one might rightfully despair of hope, looking at the facts. An apparently forever pandemic with deaths passing 800,000 in the US alone. A polarized and armed society with authoritarianism on the rise. Destabilized patterns of democracy. Climate degradation and massive storms. Militarized police forces with racial bias and an over-reliance on violence. What would you add to this list? It’s worse than one paragraph can contain!
Despite the facts, the annual cycle of awaiting and celebrating Christ’s birth promises to shape the soul in a way that can grow peace, hope, and joy. The spiritual practice of Advent invites us to make room internally for the rebirth of love in our own lives and communities. Despite the facts. We are invited to spiritually “practice” pregnancy with Mary, creating space in ourselves through breath and prayer, as new life gestates inside us and our communities. Through spiritual discipline, we ready ourselves to be recipients of an infusion of inbreaking love. As Jesus is born in us, we become more able to face the facts, and more ready to respond with love, creativity, and vision.
In what way do you personally yearn for love to be born anew--in your soul, your family, your friendships, your neighborhood, the country? How might you ready yourself this month to receive a birth of hope, peace, joy, and love, in Christ--despite the facts?
“We are all meant to be mothers of God...for God is always needing to be born.” - Meister Eckhart d.1328