It is a bright and sunshiny morning. A stark contrast to how bleak the year of 2020 has been.
In a year that has been consistantly inconsistant, the one thing that we can continue to count on is how the world continues to orbit around the sun without fail. The calendar continues to move forward unrelentingly. The bleakness of the year a direct contradiction to the sunshine.
The steady progress of time has led us to the first Sunday of Advent. The calendar makes no apologies for the arrival of the season of reflection. And perhaps it is arriving more timely than ever this year as I find myself reflecting on the year and the season this morning.
In my mind I wanted to write a series of wonderfully thoughtful articles for each of the Sundays of Advent 2020. Every week would see the execution of a beautifully thought out element in a theme rich with symbolism and scritpture.
But alas the paradox of 2020 reaches even my writing. What I expected to write, and what I am able to write look nothing like what I expected it to this year.
In fact, until today, my writing for the year has pretty much been zero.
We have all been drained this past year. The effects of the global pandemic have been felt by all. My friend, Christiana Peterson, recently had a new book released called Awakened By Death. In it she spends time talking about the black death plague and its affects on society. Much as the plague was the great leveler of the middle ages that left no race or class untouched, Covid, too, has become the great leveler of our time.
It has no care if you are male or female, rich or poor, black or white, Catholic or Protestant. Covid has touched everyone. It has touched every last soul here on earth physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, or in some combination of all of the above.
It has left us berift and empty, unable to even celebrate births, graduation and wedding or grieve our losses in the ways we would expect to. Too many goodbyes have had to be left unsaid.
Many of us are probably feeling like the Christmas tree that is currently sitting in my living room. It is still without any lights or decorations, just standing there in its stand with empty branches. Like many of us I think it wonders what the heck happened to it. How did it get to this place and where does it go from here?
And this is where we find the paradox of Hope.
In a world filled with chaos, despair, emptiness, and isolation we still have hope. It is always there for us. In the midst of panic, pandemic, and uncertainty we have a God who is still our loving Father.
Our Father who can fill us up and sustain us. He can teach us how to find calm in the storm and how to walk forward with a sense of his strength and purpose in our lives.
And we have the certain hope this season of Advent represents and reminds us of. Jesus was born for us men and for our salvation. He came down from heaven and he is coming again.
Our tree branches may be empty right now, but they don’t have to be. We have hope in Christ Jesus that we can cling too. Jesus is our light. He brings us hope that we will find a normal existance again. Hope that a treatment or vaccine will be found that will allow us to be together again. Hope that we will be able to see all of those dear faces again that have left empty seats at our tables.
Until then, we can be the light to each other, grieving together for all that has been lost in 2020. Hopefully waiting for the light of the world that is to come, Jesus.
Maybe, just maybe, the sunshine this morning isn’t such a contradiction after all, but the promise of the light to come in the days ahead of us.
O come, O come, Emmanual!
We are waiting and hoping.