How are we to live in the waning light of the Christmas star? Our hearts and lives quickened in breathless anticipation as we prepared to receive the Christ child. But here in the slow unfurling of days beyond Bethlehem, what can prepare us to face the headwinds swirling toward us from every direction, pressing us to conform to everyday routines?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, offers a helpful image. From the first earthly breath drawn by her son, Mary is aware of risks that he will face when exposed to the threatening ways of the world. Carefully, with great tenderness, she takes cloth, binding the tiny, vulnerable body of Jesus against immediate dangers, remembering her promise to God to give this life a chance. In what seems now to us so small a gift—a few bands of cloth in the hands of a loving parent—the future of love finds life.
How much more, then, are we prepared to receive God’s gifts that can, through us, continue to keep love alive in the world? As followers of Jesus, we will face harsh and threatening winds of our times, forces that can overwhelm and confuse us along the way of discipleship. But the writer of Colossians reminds us that we, like Jesus, have a loving parent who will not leave us stripped bare and alone to face worldly dangers. God our parent offers spiritual cloth to us, cloth that, if worn, can sustain us as we move forward in faith. Our task is to clothe ourselves in these gifts of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love and also to accept the bindings of forgiveness and peace.
May we seek and accept these gifts from God, and may we wear them in life-changing ways.
Loving God, I come to you this day with deep gratitude for all that you provide for me in this life. May I become humble like Jesus so my dependence on you continues to be revealed. Amen.
The boy Samuel worshiped and served God from a young age. He grows in stature and favor, the same description that will later be applied to the young Jesus in this week’s reading from Luke. The psalmist praises God for raising up a “horn” for the people. This “horn” is referred to elsewhere in the Psalms as being the True King from the line of David, identified later by Luke (1:69) as Jesus. Paul encourages the Colossians to let love rule in their community and to praise God with songs and hymns (such as the Psalms). The additional readings for this special week focus our minds on the Advent of the Lord, the amazing truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as the prophets had prophesied long ago.
• Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Where in your world do you see darkness? What lies within your power to dispel it?
• Read Psalm 148. How have you witnessed creation praising the Creator?
• Read Colossians 3:12-17. With what qualities from this list do you clothe yourself daily?
• Read Luke 2:41-52. When has a not-as-usual occurrence generated anxiety in your life? How was it resolved?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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