Scripture Reading: Luke 1:39-55, Genesis 25:21-26, John 4:24
Three years ago, my parents and I made a different type of Christmas list—the kind you don’t want to check twice. Instead of brimming with names of books, games, or clothing we hoped to receive as gifts, the list contained a few very strict non-negotiables. You see, Christmas would be smaller this year, mostly because it would be sadder.
It was our first true holiday without the fourth limb of our family tree, my little brother, who had passed away a few months before. He’d loved Christmas tree decorating and gingerbread house making more than any of us, and we’d all decided to keep the ornaments and memories of past Christmases in their boxes this season. We still wanted to celebrate the holiday, but decided to do it in our own way, which brought us to our non-negotiables list. We sat quietly as my mom, dad, and I took turns listing parties and traditions we’d save for another year—those that felt too unbearably painful.
My bedroom faced my brother’s, and all I could imagine was waking up on Christmas morning only to remember he wasn’t there. Graciously respecting my non-negotiable, we rented a cozy cabin nearby to sleep in on Christmas Eve. The morning came and left without stockings or parades, and we drove home later that night.
We walked inside our barely-decorated home, and while I was ready to usher in the 26th with relief, I noticed my mother rustling around the kitchen drawers and cabinets. She emerged with a lighter, sand, and paper bags and headed toward the door. I looked outside to see my mother, grieved and without her son, lining the neighborhood streets with candlelit luminaries.
While it’s never a guarantee that Christmas will be merry and bright, Christ’s birth lights our path to an eternal hope. Hope doesn’t just latch onto imperfect circumstances—it requires them. Mary was an unmarried virgin, yet she became pregnant. Elizabeth was of old age, yet she, too, became pregnant.
No matter how barren our lives feel, we, as God’s people, are expectant. The waiting season of Advent calls us to intensely believe not just in what has happened, but what is coming.
A child will be born, unto us.
Hope will be born, unto us.
Joy will be born, unto us.
Eternity will be born, unto us.
This passage depicting the interaction between these two women is one of my favorites, because I imagine them standing together, each with their own worries and questions, yet still beholding the same gleaming hope.
“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!”
- Luke 1:45
They believed, not as a result of receiving something or hoping for it, but of knowing Someone who was trustworthy.
We know Him too. Regardless of whether or not this season leaves you feeling grieved or joyful, barren or expectant, Christ’s birth intersects our circumstances with a steady, unwavering hope. May the belief in His spoken promises light our path. May our souls praise the greatness of the Lord, and may our spirits rejoice in God our Savior (Luke 1:39). Amen.