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Advent Meditations for the Brokenhearted and the Weary -- Week Three

Third Sunday of Advent

Waiting. Waiting for Emanuel, God with us. Mary was waiting for Jesus to be born and must have prayed for him to arrive before their trip to Bethlehem. That prayer wasn’t answered and she had to face the journey pregnant. She had to face birth in an unfamiliar place with a midwife she had just met. Mary and Martha – sisters of Lazarus prayed that Jesus would arrive before their dear brother died. He didn’t come in time, and when Martha went out to greet Jesus while her brother lay in the tomb, Mary couldn’t get up. She stayed in the house – I imagine her feeling let down and heartbroken.

Sometimes it feels like Emanuel, God with us just didn’t come. He didn’t seem to be with us.

In talking about her first year or two of fighting cancer, writer Kate Bowler said, “Anger seemed to be the only way to be honest.”

This really resonated with me as I have been coming to terms with a terrible family illness. At times, when I was quite confident God would show up, it really seemed like God didn’t. I could say what Martha and Mary both said, “Lord, if only you had come this would not have happened!”

Once again I look at Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I look at the vulnerable baby who didn’t get to skip the childhood illnesses, the scraped knees, the loss of friends and respect and even safety when he began his ministry. Emanuel --so vulnerable with me. Not always showing up loudly or by interrupting my pain. But always deeply understanding what a human feels and feeling it with me. When Mary, Martha’s sister, was told that Jesus was asking for her upon his late arrival –after Lazarus was dead -- she couldn’t hide her devastation, and she wept. Jesus, Emanuel, God with us, wept too. With Mary.

Jesus, Emanuel-God-with-me, I receive your deep compassion and understanding. I receive your togetherness with me.

Third Monday of Advent:

Have you felt forgotten or abandoned by God? Would you be brave enough to tell Jesus about it? What happened and how it felt. What do you notice in his response?

Third Tuesday of Advent:

Look again at the time you felt abandoned. Ask Jesus to show you where he was at that time. See if any images or words come to mind and write down what you sense.

Third Wednesday of Advent:

Do you have a memory of God showing up for you in a very hard moment? Take time to remember. See if you notice anything else about that

time that you hadn’t noticed before.

Third Thursday of Advent:

We often apologize to those around us when we cry. Do we need to apologize to Jesus? Or to anyone? Does this feel like a good reminder or a surprise? Try to rest in the knowledge that whatever you express, the response you can expect from Jesus is compassion. And if needed, tears.

Third Friday of Advent:

Listen to your favorite Christmas song and ponder God’s presence with you. Emanuel, God with you. Mary Did You Know is a beautiful one.

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