As we come to the end of this Advent season, and as we face the coming of the Winter Solstice tomorrow, we find ourselves in darkness – as our opening dialogue states it: stumbling as those lost in the night.
We’ve talked a lot this Advent about various forms of darkness, real and metaphorical, physical and emotional. And I know there are some of us here tonight who are dreading, for various reasons, the Norman Rockwellian (if I may coin a term) expectations that seem to inevitably come crashing in on us as Christmas Day approaches. Everyone’s looking for the perfect gift, the perfect meal, the perfect family gathering, or the perfect family, for that matter, even though we know, somewhere deep down inside, that such perfection is really unattainable. Real life just doesn’t often look like a Norman Rockwell painting.
Oh, sure, there may be moments – I can pop in the video my mother made for all of her kids the Christmas after dad died, and watch the “Happy Memories” her hand-written title promises, but dad’s still been dead for 24 years, and she’s still sick and struggling to recover from yet another surgery, and people still do really messed up things in the world in big and small ways – from just being rude and in a rush; to those entrusted to care for our loved ones in need not doing the best job they could, probably, in part, because they’re not paid what their work deserves and this disrespect gets passed from person to person like the disease it is; to terrorists that bomb a school full of children, taking innocent lives because they oppose education and advancement of individuals, especially females and those who think males and females should study together; to those who continue to get rich on the backs of others – workers who are paid a pittance and are afraid to ask for what they should earn for fear they’ll lose the job outright and have no income at all!
We carry the burdens of life in this fallen world, crying out for the dawn of God’s justice – for the dawn of God’s promised day of renewal and restoration when God will finally come and help God’s people; when God will feed his flock like a shepherd, and gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom.
And we continue to gather in God’s name, and to light our Advent candles as a statement of defiant hope (that defiant hope we spoke of back on Advent 1) the defiant hope that the promise of Christ’s coming soon is trustworthy and true!
Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year. But Monday will come, and with it comes increasing light, lengthening days, the promise of change, and growth, and continuity, and discontinuity. Things will continue to change, and, still, as the old saying goes: the more things change, the more they’ll stay the same.
Though we do not yet see, experience, live into the fullness of the new world ushered in by the coming, and the life, and the death, and the resurrection of our God in Christ – Though we still await the consummation of all things in him – the promise stands true!
God’s coming to us in Christ Jesus shines bright in the darkness of this world, with the promise of new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home, and all of God’s creation dwells in peace.
May we find in these promises of God cause for rejoicing, even in the darkest of nights. Amen.