By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ (Luke 1:78-79)
What do you want? The question caught me off guard. It came out of the blue, but I quickly realized my interrogator was asking what I wanted for Christmas.
I stumbled about, having not given it a moment’s thought during this Corona-saturated season.
Then morning came, a new day, light flooding the living room as the radio played the great Amen at the end of Handel’s Messiah, sopranos soaring, filling the room and my heart with the joy of completion.
And there was the answer. This is what I desire, to know this extraordinary love sweeping away every darkness, filling my heart with the joyous light of eternal morning.
This desire is the engine of our spiritual life.
Beneath the wants and wishes of daily life, beyond our hungers for food and safety, companionship and success, a new phone or better home, we want more. Deeper yearnings stir, drawing us toward something hard to name, a desire for I know not what some call it.
Ultimately, this is the desire for God. We yearn to be one, engulfed in the Heart in whom there is no darkness, filled with a Love beyond anything we have ever known—like on a December morning when the sunlight floods the room and tells you what you’ve always wanted … and so desperately need.
So befriend your desires as December deepens; pray them. Sooner or later, they lead you to a manger where lies the desire of your heart.
Pr. David L. Miller
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that she has served her term … (Isaiah 40:1-2a)
Today, the word is comfort.
A sharp wind cuts through my coat as I shuffle one foot to the other on the oil-stained concrete, impatient for the tank to fill so I can return to the comfort of the car.
Winter stretches long before us, and small comforts beckon—a warm drink, lamplight on a familiar chair, a few precious moments of peace.
Each small grace points beyond itself to deeper things. For comfort is more than relief from the cold.
Comfort is the enveloping warmth of safety where you know that you belong, where strength is renewed, laughter is free and hope is the air you breathe. It is knowing you can just be … nothing else is required.
This is God’s intention, God’s desire. Listen: ‘Comfort, comfort my people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.”
It is impossible for me to read these words without hearing the clarion call of the tenor at the start of Handel’s Messiah, announcing God’s intention to be the comfort for which our hearts hunger.
So we pray, Come, Lord Jesus, be our comfort in the cold.
Pr. David L. Miller
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ (Luke 1:41-42)
Today, the word is born.
A hawk sails through the gray dawn as the weight of November rests heavily on my heart. Perhaps you feel it, too. The want of light stirs rumination as the days grow shorter this time of year.
A story in the paper of a decades old tragedy deepens these reflections. It speaks of several nuns who, on Dec. 1, 1958, risked their lives in a roaring conflagration to save dozens of children at Our Lady of the Angels school in Chicago. They put their bodies between encroaching flames and their children.
The love that so obviously moved them to risk everything stirs the heart and awakens an insistent question. What longs to be born in me? What blessing, what love, lives in my hidden heart yearning to be given away before my time on this earth is done?
The Christ before whom we bow at Christmas lies within us, pressing on the womb of our souls that we may give birth to a love more beautiful than any we have known.
So, blessed are you, for you, as Mary, carry the Christ. Listen to the still, small voice within you in these darkening days, for it is Christ, there, longing to be born amid joy and wonder.
And pray, ‘Come Lord Jesus, be born in me.’
Pr. David L. Miller
Voice of the masters: “What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself? … What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I also do not give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time. When the Son of God is begotten in us.”” (Meister Eckhart, 1260-1328)
Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13:33)
Welcome to Advent reflections from St. Timothy Lutheran. Pastor Dan and I will be sharing our reflections and experience of the Advent season as it bears us toward Christmas, one day at a time.
I will share this week, Pastor Dan the next, and so on through Advent’s four weeks. During my weeks, I will offer a word each day, a single word to carry with you until evening comes and you lay the day to rest in God’s loving hands.
Today, the word is anticipation.
There are times it is hard to anticipate much of anything positive. Life hits hard and ‘knocks the wind out of our sails.’ We know that old saying and have felt it. You might be feeling it as this disappointing year winds to a weary close.
So many hopes we held for 2020 were dashed. Even more personally, as for me today, fears for loved ones you cannot help suck life from our lungs, and our hearts faint within.
But it is then, exactly then, Jesus speaks. So listen: Do not be downcast. Lift your heart, for I will not leave you desolate. I will come and fill the hole in your heart.”
Just so, we live with anticipation, looking to the next moment and then the next and the next, for he is always coming to us. We see him in a manger; we feel him in every breath of beauty and word of grace. We know him in every silent moment when the healing balm of great love flows through our hearts, making us new.
So we pray, with great anticipation, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Pr. David L. Miller