In Fleming Rutledge’s insightful and beautiful book, Advent, she recounts a story from Yemen from 2017, the poorest country in the region and suffering the effects of a prolonged civil war. The government and its agencies had ceased to exist and children were suffering from disease and malnutrition. One Yemeni soldier was standing in line outside a medical clinic with his malnourished 6-year-old daughter and described his situation this way, “We’re just waiting for doom or for a breakthrough from heaven.” For Rutledge, this is the Advent situation: “doom on the one hand, deliverance on the other.” In our worship we light a candle each week, symbolizing the transition from darkness to light, as a reminder that we are people in the darkness looking for a great light, and that the breakthrough from heaven was the birth of Jesus. As Karl Barth wrote:
“He is the God of Christmas of whom we sing: ‘A tiny child and poor he came to give us mercy’s blessing.’ This is the height and depth, the ultimate and eternal power and glory of the almighty Lord; he has mercy on us.”
This is the hope in the midst of darkness we celebrate during Advent, and the hope Christians have that one day Christ will come again, reversing the sense of doom and the presence of evil once and for all. May this encourage you this week as you continue your pilgrimage of faith.
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—– Isaiah 9:1-2
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
Lessons & Carols is this Sunday
Lessons & Carols is a celebration of God’s redeeming work in our world through Jesus Christ. The story of the long-awaited Messiah is retold through Old and New Testament readings interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols and hymns.
- Dec 8 | Serve food at the Frederick Douglass Houses
- Dec 10 | Birthday Party for Jesus
- Dec 10 | Donate Toys or Serve alongside West Siders at NYC Love Kitchen’s Christmas Banquet
- Dec 16 | Live at W83 featuring Musicians from the New York Philharmonic with pianist Eileen Buck