Grief has a funny way of catching us off guard, doesn't it? It definitely caught me off guard this past weekend. As I was reading through the list of names in our prayers during worship, my eyes wondered down to the bottom of the list where my seminary friend Laura's name now was laying. I was able to get through the list of names, but then it came time to read Laura's name and the emotions took over. The tears poured down my face. I was able to compose myself...but barely...and get through the rest of the prayers.
After the 8:30 am service, my colleague asked me if I wanted him to read the prayers at the later service. I was like "No I think I can get through them this time." The time came for the prayers and I read slowly through each name. Then the time came to read Laura's name again, so I took a deep breathe and proceeded on with the prayers as I uttered her name. This time, I was able to get through the prayers without any tears.
I have always been a crier...tears of joy and tears of sorrow have been intermingled throughout my life. I also have been known to cry at a Hallmark commercial or two. But so often those tears come as holy tears. Much like the waters of Baptism call and claim us as beloved children of God and cleanse us of our sins, our tears often help us to be reminded of that promise. Those holy tears are often a sign of new hope and promise.
I have been thinking a lot about Advent hope and promise in these last week especially because it seems like it is so hard to find that hope and promise in these days. During these days of Advent, it is important to remember that it is there; we just have to remember to look for it and savor it in this holy season. Jesus was born to an unlikely woman in the most unlikely of places. This promised Messiah came in the form of an infant son. God has a way of doing that; turning the ordinary into extraordinary---turning a simple chocolate bar into a flowing fountain of chocolate fondue. (Anyone else craving chocolate now?)
This infant Son came as the light in the midst of the darkness. This infant Son stands with us in a world that seems to be falling apart. This infant Son comes to calm our fears especially when it feels like our world, with good reason, is full of anxiety. This infant Son comes to call us each by name. This infant Son comes in the midst of our grief and promises to sit with us.
Most of all, this infant Son comes as eternal Advent hope that is born in a manger in Bethlehem thousands of years ago to an unlikely woman Mary and her betrothed Joseph. This infant Son comes as OUR ETERNAL ADVENT HOPE! "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight (O Little Town of Bethlehem, verse 1)."
I am linking up with these lovely ladies today: Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa Linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story and Holley and Coffee for your Heart!