I am making my peace with the cold. I generally despise the chill that comes with the end of summertime. When the temperature dips below 35 degrees (in the Midwest that’s sometime in October or November) I’m ready to go from house to car to destination and back again as quickly as humanly possible. And following this brilliant plan, about halfway through December my soul is completely sun-starved and a little depressed. So instead, this year, I’m committed to pulling on my warmest pair of gloves and shaking hands with winter. I’m repurposing my favorite headband to shield my ears and taking a walk in my neighborhood. I’m piling on the layers and walking a little slower through the biting wind; taking the time to enjoy simple moments outdoors.
I turned my clocks back an hour about a month ago with the realization that the daylight would become increasingly scarce. I know that in the next several days my trip home from work at 5 pm will get darker. The days shorten. The nights lengthen. The temperatures droop. The dark and frozen days remind me of the anticipation and hope for the light that was born into the world on Christmas day. The rhythm of the seasons is a poignant reminder of the longing and the waiting for the incarnation. In the northern hemisphere, we choose to celebrate the coming of Jesus during the darkest part of the year.
The good news of Christmas is that Jesus became a man and dwelled among us making a way for us to be reconciled to God. During this season commemorating the Jewish people’s waiting for the Messiah, I remember that we continue to wait and watch for the Kingdom of God to be established on earth. Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God and it is here, but at the same time it is not yet realized. Jesus taught us to pray saying: your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In some of the darkest corners of the earth Word Made Flesh staff join with friends waiting and hoping for the Kingdom of God to be made known. In slums, sewers, brothels and streets amidst desperate poverty and oppression it does seem like the daylight might be swallowed up. Just when it seems like the night is overtaking the day, the winter solstice takes place in the Christmas season, and marks the end of the shortening days. Slowly, slowly the days begin to lengthen. Jesus is born to the girl called Mary. The light comes into the world. The movement towards spring begins. Jesus inaugurates his ministry and we move towards the death and resurrection of Christ, and the celebration of new life at Easter. I know that resurrection is coming, but still there is the agonizing wait and the longing for new life. Although it sometimes seems so small to me, there is great hope for the kingdom coming.
My work at Word Made Flesh is part of the effort to prophetically proclaim that the Kingdom of God is coming by joining Jesus among the poorest of the poor. During the Christmas season I am so grateful for the support that you have offered me this year.
Thank you for joining me.
Waiting. Longing. Hoping. Believing.
P.S. I leave you with a prayer for Christmas full of themes of the Kingdom of God coming. Mary knew about waiting and she knew that the kingdom coming was the upside down kingdom.
Luke 1: 46 – 55
My soul proclaims your greatness, O God,
And my spirit rejoices in you, my Savior.
For you have looked with favor
Upon your lowly servant,
And from this day forward
All generations will call me blessed.
For you, the Almighty, have done great things for me,
And holy is your Name.
Your mercy reaches from age to age
For those who fear you.
You have shown strength with your arm;
You have scattered the proud in their conceit;
You have deposed the mighty from their thrones
And raised the lowly to high places.
You have come to the aid of Israel your servant,
Mindful of your mercy—
The promise you made to our ancestors—
To Sarah and Abraham
And their descendants forever.