category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 27

Friday, December 25

Isaiah 52: 7–10; Psalm 98;  Hebrews 1: 1–12; John 1:1–14

Perhaps never have so many been so eager for the end of a calendar year than we have this 2020. Sickness has covered the globe. In our own country, prolonged pandemic was joined this year by deep divisions throughout society. Politics and racial tensions have ripped at our communities. Electoral politics has polarized us into unproductive silos. Physically, emotionally, and perhaps even spiritually exhausted, we look to the season of Advent just as the thirsty person scours the desert in search of water.

Thankfully, we are reminded at Christmastime that through God “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Light brings us hope. Light brings us joy; it lifts us up, and it raises our spirits. Lights from candles placed in windows throughout our community and on gloriously decorated trees are reminders that there is indeed always brightness in the world. Though uncertainty has dominated our daily lives this past year, our faith gives us the assurance of better days ahead. The “radiance of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:2) shines through brightly, granting each of us comfort and courage.

The year soon to close has witnessed a battle between illumination and despair. So, too, has the year left us scarred by the sounds of hatred. America’s streets have been filled with the cries of anger, with taunts and expletives, and with a general cacophony of despair. America in 2020 has hardly been the City on a Hill or Beacon to the World that we believe it could and should be. Yet, through it all, our faith grants us resilience and resolve. We know that a joyous noise awaits us on the near horizon. This Advent season we “sing to the Lord a new song”; we “shout for joy to the Lord,” and we “burst into jubilant song” (Psalm 98).

We have a special obligation this holiday season to transform vitriol into the voices of those “who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7). We must lift up our voices together and “shout for joy” (Isaiah 52:8). We must drown out the doom and division with “the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King” (Psalm 98).

Advent comes none too soon this year. Our celebrations may be different than in years past. We may have to distance ourselves physically and socially from loved ones. We may have to utilize Zoom to share special moments with parents, grandparents, and those who live far away. On the upside, the season may be less commercialized than ever before. We may have time to reflect on the year just survived, and to fortify ourselves for the year ahead. We may, indeed, have the good fortune to share God’s light across the land and revel in singing songs to the Lord!

Dr. William M. Downs
President of Gardner–Webb University

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