My mother is a tutor at an elementary school, whose students include many immigrants and refugees. (In this small school there are twenty-nine languages spoken.) Every day my mom asks her students a simple question. One day she asked a seven-year-old from Afghanistan what he liked about living in the U.S. No war, he carefully scrawled on his paper.
I think about this boy and his family, who are struggling to make it here in their new country. They face many barriers, but they no longer face the specter of war all around. It reminds me of Isaiah’s prophecy that the people who have lived in darkness will see a great light and that “all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.”
It has taken relationship with refugees to help unpack new meanings for me in the story of Jesus, who knew what it was like to flee violence and dictators. Advent songs about the Wonderful Counselor, almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, did not mean all that much to me—a girl who grew up safe and comfortable, my religion the majority, never having to leave my home to escape persecution. But the richness of the good promises of God have continued to grow for me as I have worked with refugee populations over the past decade and a half. As the stories of displacement around our world grow and as more of them have found their way into my ears, the miracle of the kingdom that Jesus came to announce starts to take my breath away. This is a world I long to live in! And it is one I am learning to yearn for more and more with each passing year, with each story of displacement that comes my way.
Reread Isaiah 9:2-7. Which good news leaps out the most to you? How do you see God’s kingdom coming even now in the midst of increased global conflict?
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 do you experience God’s creations worshiping and praising God? How do you join in that worship?
Read Colossians 3:12-17. How are you clothing yourself with love during this season?
Read Luke 2:1-20. In what ways do you hold and ponder the story of Christ’s birth in your heart?
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