This year the season of Advent is as long as it possibly can be with the first Sunday of Advent starting on November 27th. Now in the second week of Advent, we continue to prepare for the appearance of Jesus as a tiny baby born in very challenging circumstances. His mother gave birth away from her home town, far from her home and familiar surroundings. Some of her family may have still felt ambivalent about the nature of Mary’s pregnancy. Has Joseph begun to understand it? The Messiah is born in very humble circumstances, soon to become a Refugee.
This year we remember all those born and living in challenging circumstances, born in areas of conflict, like the Holy Land today. This year war is raging in Ukraine, and conflicts around the world are shown daily on our televisions. We remember all who are refugees who are escaping conflict and persecution.
We pray that the hope and joy of Christmas will also be experienced in these difficult times.
Advent is a time of acknowledging paradox. A time of hope and celebration amidst personal and world difficulty, bereavement, illness and loss.
At Growing Old Grace-fully we celebrate the role, gifts and experience of older people. Joseph is traditionally described as an older man. Mary and Jesus must have benefited from his life experience. The Shepherds and Magi may have been mixed age groups: older Shepherds guiding and overseeing the younger ones. It is likely the Magi had a lifetime of study and experience. We know that the Holy Family travelled to Jerusalem to present Jesus in the Temple. They were met by the elderly Simeon and Anna who had been awaiting the Messiah. Let us celebrate them all!
We remember all older people, locally and around the world. Some who are among family and friends, and others who are alone, those fearing food and heating prices, and all who are juggling the blessings and difficulties of older age. Many of us are dealing with the push and pull of life: happy and sad memories of experience and life itself. And if we believe we no longer have a place or sense of agency in life these words of Pope Francis might be encouraging:
“Of one thing I am certain – every human being reveals something of God …a spark of divine light shines from each one of us…every human being has been taken up into the heart of God, conferring on them an infinite divinity.”
The coming of Christ is the joyful, welcoming of the Messiah. And we also know that the incarnate Christ dies and is resurrected for us. My eight year old granddaughter has expressed this paradox (unprompted by me), in her home made Christmas card to me this year. Inside a cheery, snowy, animal card she has drawn a crucified Christ with the heading ” Jesus dies for our sins. ” Behind the cross is Father Christmas and his reindeer and sleigh, and happy Christmas wishes and love from her to me. She has captured the joy and sadness we experience during this season of the Church year.
However, Advent culminates with Christmas. We live with the hope and happiness of Christmas. May you all feel the hope and blessings of Christmas!
Here is part of Joyce Rupp’s “A Christmas Blessing.”
May you give and receive love generously. May this love echo in your heart like the joy of church bells on a clear December day….
May the hope of this sacred season settle in your soul. May it be a foundation of courage for you when times of distress occupy your inner land….
May you daily open the gift of your life and be grateful for the hidden treasures it contains…
May you keep your eye on the Star within you and trust this Luminescent Presence to guide and direct you each day….
May you go often to the Bethlehem of your heart and visit the One who offers you peace. May you bring this peace into our world.”
May you all feel the hope and happiness of Christmas and a blessed New Year!