December 21 / Third Friday of Advent
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love. ~ Zephaniah 3:16-17
On this sun-sparse day of the winter solstice, the dark night seems to be gaining the upper hand. Everywhere we look—and thanks to the internet, that can be literally everywhere—our world is beset by crises and riven with tensions. In refugee camps, in inner cities, at border crossings, in bombed-out towns and burned-up forests, chaos and destruction are having their way. Conflict and suffering, both in our own lives and in the broader world, presage that something wicked this way comes. We can be forgiven, perhaps, for being discouraged to the point of despair. But to those who are sad, disheartened and afraid, God says through his prophet Zephaniah, “Fear not! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior.” In Hebrew, the word translated “savior” is associated with an Arabic word that means “to make wide, make spacious.” To be saved means to have enough room—enough room in our souls to cultivate a relationship with God through prayer, enough space in our hearts to allow for acts of charity, enough capacity in our spirits to slow down and breathe. Our Savior hears our prayers when we are hemmed in by the darkness or trapped in the narrow straits of despair and leads us to the spacious plains of peace and hope. Because God is in our midst, enlivening and strengthening us with his love, we can face the future with hope, sure in the knowledge that the light of God’s coming among us is greater than any darkness and that the day will come, in the fullness of God’s time, when we can rejoice with gladness in the eternal radiance of his love.
Lord of light and air, lift me out of the depths from which I cry to you, and wrap me in your glorious and abundant love.Amen.