Brendan Trinkle is a great friend of ours and will be a regular contributor to our blog. He has been leading worship for our gatherings and is a key member of The Parish Launch Team. He’s married to Lindsay and together they will be hosting a Table Group in Atlanta.
Eddie spoke to this yesterday, and I find that the same is true in my life: the Christmas season has a tendency to rush by in a flurry of lights and ribbons and reindeer and gingerbread, the nativity mingled in among the decorations. There is much to distract and detach us from the wild mystery that is Christmas – Jesus, God born as a human baby to impoverished parents, laid in a hay box in a small Palestinian town over 2,000 years ago. I hope that together we can pause to think about these strange, miraculous details despite the busyness of the season.
The Collects and Canticle for this week are helpful to me in understanding some common threads in today’s readings. The Collect prayers each invoke the presence of God, His guidance in our lives, and His defense against the evils of the world on our behalf. Zechariah’s song represents an answer to those prayers, celebrating the faithfulness of God to come to His people as He promised. In each of the readings some aspect of that dichotomy is present – the desperate pleas of an afflicted people longing for peace and the faithful God who makes good on His promised deliverance, continually healing our lives.
My favorite line in ‘O Holy Night’ is “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” Some days I am more in touch with my weariness than others. When the voices of “many are saying to me, ‘there is no help for you in God,’ ” (Ps. 3:2) it takes everything I have to believe “the Lord hears when I call to him,” (Ps. 4:3). Then there are the days where I find myself thrilled with hope “as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19), and the humble Christ rides into my heart, triumphantly as he did in Jerusalem (Matt 21).
Today, let us become more aware of this dichotomy in our own lives: moments of desperation and anxiety, coupled with the faithfulness of a God who never fails. This back and forth is the expression of the of the gospel story in our lives, as we are daily moving from darkness into light.