Advent Devotional – Thursday, December 24

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Week 4 – December 24 – Peace, Love and Hope

Reflectors: Jon and Lenna Kottke

Life is filled with unexpected twists and turns, never more so than those we have experienced this year. Our spirits have risen and fallen as the pandemic has spread, leveled off, and spiked again. Schools have opened, then closed. A critical election has come and gone, with results under dispute.

Yet in the midst of turmoil comes unexpected blessings as well. News of unprecedented successes in vaccine development. A snowfall that brought wildfires under control. Record voter engagement and turnout. Reasons for hope.

The Scripture for today comes from Mary’s song of praise, her Magnificat. She was a young girl living in a time of turmoil as well, and her life had been turned upside down by the visit of an angel who told her she was to bear a holy child. Yet she could envision a future where those who had been brought low would be raised up. She was filled with hope that God would provide what was needed, “filling the hungry with good things.” She could look beyond outer circumstances to the angel’s promise.

As we shelter in our homes, perhaps alone or with only our closest family members, we can choose to focus on gratitude for the blessings in our lives. We can contemplate the things we have, the things we love, and the things we hope for … for ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and our world.

Yet hope, while essential, is insufficient. As the familiar quote suggests, we must “be the change we wish to see in the world.” Mary did her part to fulfill the angel’s promise, and we can each do our part to make the world better for our children and grandchildren. Making masks, filling food banks, reaching out to a friend in need, welcoming a stranger … small steps of caring and compassion can help our hopes become reality.

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, help us remember that the miracle of Christmas was the coming of your spirit into our world through your son, our brother, Jesus. Jesus’s message to the world is that we are all your children — your spirit resides in all of us. Knowing this and knowing that nothing can separate us from your love, help us to have the determination and courage, as Mary did, to do our part, whatever our circumstances, to help bring more peace, love and hope into the world. Amen.