Advent: Joy, Hope, and Suffering

Today is the fourth, and last, Sunday in Advent.

It’s finally cold. A skiff of snow covers the ground. Flakes, flurries created by the relative warmth of the lake, dance in the sun. The Vigil Of Advent  nears its end. Peace and awakening are near. A child readies to make her way into the world.

It is the end of the college term. As happens, last night was a sort of sleep over comprised of young adults home for the Holidays, and their friends who are in transit home. This morning, wandering through the house, we catch sight of peacefully sleeping bodies, their faces tranquil. Occasionally, someone smiles in their slumber. I guess they were up late.

Today we will do ceremony for the many children and adults who were harmed years ago at a local charitable institution. We will bring gifts, a festive meal of pizza and brownies, and good will to the spirits who reside in that place. We will share a few moments of peace and warmth with them, and acknowledge their suffering.

Inherent in Christmas,  although largely ignored, is the suffering of the  expectant parents, a conquered people, and the adult Jesus to come.

In the Christian liturgical Calendar, Christmas is a relatively minor holiday, the Advent and birth primarily important as the fulfillment of prophesy. The birth sets the stage for Jesus’ suffering and death, his transition from human to divine. Often, the simple miracle of birth and rebirth becomes lost in the focus on death to come. Oddly, also lost is Holy Innocents Day. Holy Innocents’ falls a couple of days past Christmas, and  marks a politically motivated act of genocide against an enslaved Jewish people. One wonders what erases mystery, joy, and horror from our attention.

But all of that is in the future.

This week we attend to the rebirth of the sun, and the birth of the Holy in the form of a child. In doing so, we touch the Great Mystery. So we wait for a child to be born, for Hope to return to the world.

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