Our children and grandchildren live in the four corners of the United States. In the summer of 2020, in a hedge against COVID-induced family separation, we bought a used red truck and our own pull-behind motel room with a queen bed, kitchen, bathroom, and shower. But when COVID-19 cases rose sharply, we canceled our plan to meet our family outside Yellowstone National Park. We opted instead for a three-day trip to an Ojibway-run campground on the shimmering waters of the lake the Ojibway call Gichi-gami (Lake Superior).
On our last evening, some new families had arrived. We sat in our old blue canvas folding chairs; as campfires lit the twilight, the lake turned its evening colors. At one picnic table, a group of teenagers played cards. In the center of the knoll, young girls turned cartwheels on gymnastic mats. Their mothers, some in hijabs, others bareheaded, watched and chatted. The beauty of their vacation soothed our souls.
We quip, “Out of the mouths of babes” when a child says something precocious. Yet the context implies that strength is derived from children when those around them are threatened. My colleague Judith Newman reminds me that Hebrew poetry is ambiguous. Quoting Robert Alter, she says the most innocent and vulnerable of children provide “a source of strength” against the “inhuman forces of chaos,” no doubt bringing a smile to the face of God! Certainly, these children, teenagers, and their parents witnessed to this profound possibility in a summer we spent discerning an invisible but vicious threat.
God of all people, help us find strength in vulnerability and innocence. In the name of the One who is the eye of the mind, its expression as word, and the will that produces that expression, we pray. Amen.
In our society we often privilege intellect and expertise. However, in Proverbs we read that God values wisdom. Wisdom has been present since the beginning, and some early theologians understand this Wisdom to be none other than the Son of God. Part of wisdom is understanding our place in the universe. The psalmist marvels at the vast display of God’s power in the heavens yet also recognizes that humans are a manifestation of God’s glory. The New Testament readings invoke the Trinity as we approach Trinity Sunday. Paul says that we have peace with God through Christ, and we are given the Holy Spirit. In John’s Gospel, we read that Jesus Christ has received everything from the Father, and the Spirit will guide his followers into all truth.
Read Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31. When have you heard God calling out to you?
Read Psalm 8. The author reminds us that our shortcomings are not because we are only human but because we fall short of our humanity. How do you strive to be more human—a little lower than God?
Read Romans 5:1-5. How do you allow God’s peace to calm you when you feel your life swirling around you?
Read John 16:12-15. To which person of the Trinity do you feel “closest”? How can you develop your relationship with the other two persons?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.