Possibilities

FLYING-PIGS-C4.5Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. – Luke 1:13-15

A few days ago I met with my small group and at the end of our meeting we went around and asked how we could pray for one another during the holidays. What I heard around that circle reminded me again that while this season is filled with great joy there is also real pain just beneath the surface: grief, stress and conflict. As full as these days are they are often accompanied by a deep longing for more than we’re experiencing.

The story of Elizabeth and Zechariah is also a story about deep longings. This faithful couple longed for a child, but that longing went unfulfilled as their lives progressed well beyond the age of child-bearing. And just when they thought that they were beyond hope and possibility, God announced the impossible. Elizabeth would bear a child. That child became John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for Jesus. It’s a beautiful story, but troubling too. We probably all know faithful couples who long to have children and beg God for the gift, but their prayers go unanswered. Why does God answer some prayers and not others?

But what if this story is about something more? What if it’s a story that also invites us to be open to a world of possibility greater than our eyes can see or even our hearts can imagine? We all know that we don’t get everything that we want in life no matter how faithful we are and no matter how much we pray. But what if the stories that are woven through the Advent season are a holy invitation to expand our vision for what’s possible, even in those circumstances that we’ve labeled “impossible”? After all, if God can enter our world in the frail flesh of a child what else might God do?

I don’t know what you’re longing for this Advent season but the gift of Emmanuel is that God is with us even, or perhaps especially, in those circumstances that seem impossible and in which we’re tempted to give up hope. If the God of possibilities is with you who knows what God might birth in you.

Take a moment and let this beautiful song from last week’s worship service birth a little hope and inspiration in you. Click here to watch and listen.

I’m going to take a couple of weeks off from blogging to breathe in the joy and hope of this season, and will meet you back in this space in the New Year. In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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