December 11, 2023



Hail, favored Ones!


Many of our congregations are using the Advent resource from A Sanctified Art. Its theme this year is “How Does a Weary World Rejoice?” taken from the line in O Holy Night…“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices for yonder comes that new and glorious morn.”


A weary world. Friends, I have been hearing that weariness from people who have lost loved ones and this will be the first (or 10th) holiday without their beloveds present.  I’ve heard it from congregations and pastors in transition which, while exciting on the one hand, is also sad and hard and involves grief. I’ve heard that weariness from people who are horrified by the slaughter of innocent Israelis by the Hamas and the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza or the fighting in Ukraine, or the harrowing plight of refugees everywhere. I’ve heard it from people already weary of the upcoming election year. It’s that weariness that Mark Koenig, a communications specialist for the PCUSA national offices, gave voice to in this poem they published the first day of Advent:


A Prayer When Advent Is Challenging

God of our journey,

we enter Advent once again—

a time of waiting,

a time of anticipating,

a time of preparing.

We move toward Christmas—

a time of excitement,

a time of celebration,

a time of joy.

But God,

we do so in a broken and fearful world,

we do so carrying heavy burdens.

This can be a challenging season,

We weep for the

violence and harm

your children do to

one another and to your creation.

We chafe at

systemic injustice and oppression

that deny full life to all.

We grieve the deaths

of family members,

of friends,

of colleagues.

We cope with illness

in our bodies and minds

and in the bodies and minds

of those we love.

We struggle

to cope with challenges of life

known only to ourselves

and shared by many.

Remind us, God,

that it is OK not to be OK,

it is OK not to have the “holiday spirit”.

Remind us of your love for us

just as we are.

Remind us of your presence with us

however painful and challenging life may become.

Remind us that we can care for others

and allow others to care for us

and together make our way through this season and all seasons.

Grant us strength and grace

and all we need for the living of these days.

We pray in the name of Jesus

who came among us as a tiny babe

to share our life

in joy and sorrow,

despair and promise

death and new birth.



I don’t know if you’re experiencing your own weariness or are bearing the weariness of the world this year, but I do know that a weary world can rejoice. We can rejoice that God chose to be right in the middle of this messy and broken life with us. We can rejoice that God is still bringing about God’s redemption and liberation for us and for the whole world. We can rejoice in the community of Christ’s followers who travel this road with us as well. As the final verse of The Canticle of Turning puts it, “Though the nations rage from age to age we remember who holds us fast: God’s mercy must deliver us from the conqueror’s crushing grasp. This saving word that our forebearers heard is the promise which hold us bound, till the spear and rod can be crushed by God who is turning the world around!”


I hope to see some of you this Wednesday at the staff party from 11:00am-1:00pm and to all of you, may you experience hope, peace, joy, and love in this season and through the new year ahead!


As ever in prayer,




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