Advent Devotional: Dec. 18, 2020

By Maggie and Mac Gibbs

Hebrews 13: 1-3:
“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”

As this year comes to a close, there is much to reflect on. We see polarization and division within families and across borders, we anticipate uncertainty at every turn, and we feel the weight of our collective suffering bearing down upon us. Where can hope be found in times like these?

The answer will be different for each of us. Perhaps hope can be found in new life brought forth from the swollen tummies of pregnant mothers, or spotted in the twinkle of a stranger’s eye as they pass us on the street. Maybe hope sounds like the laughter of the neighborhood’s children, carried on the wind like a song as they race by on their bicycles. At times, hope may feel like a distant and elusive thing. But might it also be found in one another?

A few weeks ago we found ourselves with positive covid tests, dizzying coughs, and an empty refrigerator—seemingly the worst combination for a two week quarantine with Thanksgiving smack in the middle of it. Loneliness fell heavy upon our shoulders those first few nights, separated from family by far too many miles. And yet, the heart of God was not lost on us. Even here, love found us.

Where there is suffering, there is opportunity for healing. And if our suffering is great, as is now the case, then isn’t there space for healing on a scale so grand that we can hardly comprehend it? Perhaps that is where we can find hope in this season. A hope for healing; for unity; for love.

In our time of need, we found our church working as body with its many beautiful parts to meet our every need: a letter of encouragement sent through the mail; a sack of cookies dropped on the doorstep; small-groups over Zoom continuing to deepen our faith; meals delivered with a warm smile and lively waves of “hello” and “take care!”.

In the midst of our loneliness, when the burden feels too heavy to carry alone, there are helpers and healers among us, working diligently to spread Christ’s love. This is where our hope is.

Our church is filled with gifts of kindness and warmth. Rather than building up walls to keep all of that goodness within, we have been so generously offered a place at the table. And there has been no shortage of goodness to go around. How much hope there is to be found in one another!

Loving God, be with us here. We pray today for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. May your love wrap us in an embrace so warm that we cannot help but feel cared for. May your goodness lift our spirits, and may your kindness overflow so that we might be even more generous to our neighbors. Thank you for watching over us. Our hope is in you in this (and in every) season. Amen.