The Longest Night

Today’s Word:  PROMISE

Today’s Time of Stillness:  21 minutes

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’” – Matthew 1:20-21

This post originally appeared in Campbell University’s 2016 Advent Guide.

It must have been a long night for Joseph. Tossing and turning. Repeating the conversation again and again in his mind, hoping just once it would end differently.

Hearing Mary’s words that she was pregnant. This wasn’t how the story was supposed to go. Everything he had planned on, everything and everyone he thought he could count on, were not what he expected, what he wanted. And none of his options brought him any peace.

There’s a loneliness in the darkness of difficult decisions and dashed hopes. When none of your choices are what you hoped they would be. When the lifeline of control is slipping through your fingers and words spoken or imagined exhaust your mind and keep your soul from rest.

Morning can’t come quickly enough.

When Joseph finally fell off to sleep, he discovered God’s presence in the darkness. He heard God’s voice in the silence.

That’s the promise of Advent. “Do not be afraid. God is with us.”

Advent means arrival. The light, indeed, has come into the world. It hasn’t come and gone. It’s here. Now. And yet again and again we let the darkness overwhelm us. We let fear overtake us.

We doubt that morning will come.

Tonight we’ll experience the longest night of the year, the winter solstice. May it be a reminder to us that even when darkness persists longer than we think we can bear, God is present in the darkness. We’re not alone.

The light has already arrived. Our Advent hope remains. Emmanuel. God with us.

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