2019 Advent Devotional – Day 23


Matthew 2:16-18Herod ordered the young children in Bethlehem to be killed

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

Lament - Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Emmanuel—God with us—is a promise that God is with us in all our days, and this particularly encompasses our times of pain and sorrow. Matthew’s gospel reminds us of this, including Herod’s brutality following the birth of Jesus and the grief that created. His narrative depicts a world in all its facets and acknowledges that a life of faith is not without trouble or grief.

Christmas can be a complicated time emotionally—so much emphasis is put on joy and happiness that it can seem at times as though we are not allowed to feel anything else. But at the same time, this season can surface and reinforce feelings of loss and lacking. This, in turn, can be made worse by expectations that we shouldn’t be feeling this way and misapprehensions that we are the only one feeling this way.

The reading today is a reminder that God understands grief, and that sadness and sorrow were part of Jesus’ story too. These events reinforce that there is no aspect of our emotional world that God does not accept. Most importantly they affirm that God is with us in our grief, comforting and consoling us and giving us strength. 

Open yourself today to God’s presence, accepting and understanding all the feelings that this season may evoke for you. And give thanks for our God who will be with us in our pain.

Consoling God,
Hold me close to you today and bring me comfort. Reassure me that you are by my side, supporting me in times of sorrow. As the excitement around me escalates, remind me that you are with me wherever I am; be that in my sadness or my loneliness, my tiredness or my fear. Stay by my side and embrace me in your all-encompassing love. Amen.

Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2020.

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