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Friday, December 23, 2011

Dr. Pat Saxon
Prayer Ministry Volunteer

[The] night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13: 12

A Word of Hope
It’s 4:00 Wednesday morning and the worries have got me. Rather than thrash around in the bed, I rise, click on the Christmas lights in the living room, light a candle and turn on my laptop to check the news. House Rejects Senate Extension of the Payroll Tax Bill. US General in Afghanistan Says Troops May Stay Past 2014. Homeless Man Brutally Beaten on Tape. Too much darkness—inside and out.

One of my morning devotions has focused this week on the O Antiphons—a set of seven antiphons which are chanted or recited during Vespers as part of the liturgy of the hours in monastic communities. Practiced in the days leading up to Christmas, each addresses a name for the Messiah and echoes the prophecies of Isaiah. This morning it’s the very one I need, the O Oriens: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of Eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. As I listen to an audio version, the rich yet sober voices call and claim the light of Jesus—so near to us this Advent, yet sometimes so difficult to touch.

So we call and wait, call and watch. We cling to the faith that the Light which overcomes all darkness will come, but not always as we anticipate. Not always with the sentimental homecomings of Hallmark families. Not always with the flush of new love. Sometimes with the release of the hardened heart, with comfort in the shadow of death, with courage to admit we need help, with the lifting of despair or the ability to see with new eyes, Emmanuel comes.

As we approach Christmas Eve, Francesca Battistelli’s beautiful imagining of Mary’s inner life speaks powerfully:

    All this time we’ve waited for the promise/All this time You’ve waited for my arms. Did you wrap yourself inside the unexpected/So that we might know that Love would go that far?

Pondering that last line will break us open—that to know us intimately, to draw close to us, God came wrapped in the vulnerability of human flesh—subject to hurt and betrayal and death as we are. Yes, Love went that far—for you, for me, for all that have been and are yet to come.

Be born in us, O Holy Child, and let the light of your love shine within our lives.
Be born in us, O Prince of Peace, let the hope you bring this world be born in me. Amen.

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