And they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.”
In the northern hemisphere the days are short and the light is dwindling. In this part of the northern hemisphere, it is cold, as well as, dwindling light. Advent is dark and the hope of those 4 candles ready to be lit seems so small. 4 small lights flickering in the darkness. 4 small lights telling us that there is a light shining in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.
Our candles on Payne Ave are battery operated. They sit on a piece of blue, glittery felt, next to a box of coffee cups and creamer. Coffee cups waiting to be filled from the giant pot next to the box. The sidewalk is our chancel area. It is our nave. It is our fellowship hall. It is our sacristy. It is all things to us.
On our chancel sit boxes of hats and mittens. There are quilts made by good lutheran ladies in church basements all over the Twin Cities. There are piles of snow and ice. The noise of the street covers our voices as we pray and read scripture together.
And, God is with us.
God is with us as we express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters who sleep outside year round. God is with us as we wonder at the neighbors who stop to eat with us. God is with us as we give someone their first communion. He asks, “What is this?” We say, “It is God’s promise to love you.” He says, “I want that.”
God is with Mary as she awaits a surprise baby. God is with Joseph as he wonders at becoming a step father. God is at work in this family blending them together. God is at work showing us that traditional relationships aren’t always where God shows up.
And sometimes, it feels like the darkness is overcoming. We read of the cease fire in Aleppo that is not an actual cease fire. We read of increased hate crimes in this time between presidents. We read of gun violence in our neighborhoods. We wonder if God is with us.
And then, we light the candles. We light 1, and then 2, and then 3, and then the 4th. A tangible reminder that the light is coming. A reminder that we didn’t start without light. There is always some light. The darkness never fully overcomes. God is with us and God is in the mess that is our world. God chose a messy family to be born into. God does not leave us in the dark. God carries us through the dark days to days of justice and righteousness. God is with us. God is with you.
Keep hope alive!