Advent 2…

Tomorrow is the second Sunday of Advent…a time when we focus on God’s kingdom drawing near–and joy.

That seems a little ironic, given the turmoil that has been swirling around since the election a month ago. So many feel little joy.

Many, in fact, feel fear and worry. What will their future hold? How safe will they be? Will they be able to buy homes…get married…afford insurance…openly hold hands with their loved one…meet the medical needs of their disabled family members…be targeted because of their appearance or ethnicity or perceived country of origin?

Many wonder about those who claim to be followers of the Christ. Just whose kingdom is drawing near? God’s? or someone else’s?

And yet…

My mind goes back to the event that we are preparing to celebrate. What was it like for them 2000 years ago?

After all, they were people in an occupied country–not even considered citizens. They never knew when the occupying powers might decide to flex their muscles and make life even more miserable for them than it already was.

If life wasn’t already bad enough, they had to deal with a census order that totally upended life. Families (based on the male line, of course, since women didn’t have rights) had to return to the town of their ancestors to be counted, because Caesar wanted to know how many people he could tax. Travel wasn’t as easy as it is now–or as inexpensive. Once people arrived in their towns, they were so overcrowded there wasn’t any place to stay–and the Romans had taken the best places, anyway.

To top it off, Mary was pregnant…almost due to give birth.

What joy was there in that? And what hope about God’s kingdom drawing near?

Yet–as Dr. Seuss’s Grinch discovered–Christmas does come. And so does joy…and hope…and God’s kingdom. Maybe not in the ways we expected…but when we open our eyes, we can see the small acts of caring that work together to show that there is reason for hope. God’s kingdom–a kingdom where people are loved and cared for…supported and nurtured–may appear fractured and distant, but there are people working to bring it about. And that is a reason for joy.


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