It was a Thursday morning, and I was preoccupied with writing this article and considering the words of John the Baptist from the passage in Luke 3. John seems so out of place in Advent, I thought to myself. He speaks such harsh words of judgment and repentance when what we truly want to hear is Tiny Tim’s “God bless us everyone” to put us in the Christmas spirit.
With the church in Philippi threatened by disunity, Paul exhorts the people to "be of the same mind." He even calls people out by name: Hey, Euodia and Syntyche, I mean you.
But Paul also names another threat: worry.
We did a lot of breathing through our teeth: “Hee, hee, hoo. Hee, hee, hoo. Hee, hee, hoo.” The instructor said this breathing would help mitigate the pain of labor, and it did, until we hit that thing called transition (the most intense phase of labor when even the strongest women momentarily lose faith in their ability to bring new life into the world).
Reinhold Niebuhr once wrote, “The human spirit is incapable of ridding itself of an abiding sense of homelessness.” It is as if we never feel quite at home anywhere but are always seeking that sweet place. We yearn for the day when the distance between time and eternity will be finally and fully bridged; until then, we understand exile.
Why are you and I offered this wonderful performance on this Advent Sunday? Because although it may be winter in the realm of nature, it is springtime in the realm of the spirit and of our Christian hearts. We are not far from the fields and caves of Bethlehem. But before we come to them, we need to know that every one of these songs was sung in spite of the times. Knowing this, it is salutary to look once again at the extraordinary joy that bubbles forth.