Mary. Emmanuel. This fourth Sunday of Advent at the solstice, the shortest of days in the year when we yearn for the the light to return as others suffer the dire consequences of too much heat. The injustice of it all. And I feel like switching it all off and not knowing, but then I too become disconnected. And we yearn for connection. We bear each others pain in the knowing and the sharing. Who bore your pain Mary? Did Joseph? Encouraged by the angel in the gospel of Matthew to not ‘do the righteous thing’ but to do the dangerous thing to stand by her. Yes. She’s pregnant. And no, Joseph, It isn’t yours. What would we do? How many women will we stand by who are like Mary this Advent. How many women will we empower this advent as we support Christian Aid to enable them to help themselves out of poverty? What did Joseph do? He offered a gift of legitimacy. In a culture of shame upon women who were pregnant out of marriage he offered a home and a place for Mary to be secure. Will we do the same to those who are branded as illegitimate or foreign or different in some way. What would we give for such security for those women around the world who live in fear of tomorrow because of the situation they find themselves in. And yet, Mary chose her path, knowing it was more than her own life. Mary, Jospeh, then Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Our companion on the way. Knowing that somehow perhaps those choices and actions, however small at that moment would change things for the future. In that moment of knowing, the light begins to shine out of the darkness. It works so well in the northern hemisphere. Where the nights are long and light is at a premium. So yesterday in the meagre short hours of light we walked, unhurried along a path. Squandering those precious hours of light simply walking in the company of others, offering ourselves to each other as companions on the way carrying each other for a time. At this darkest moment of the year our expectation grows and our Advent waiting is almost done.
As the light fades on this shortest of days
May we who have walked to the turn of the earth
dwell in the company of brightness
With winter’s shrouded colours born of waiting
in anticipation of the light that is to come.
May we return to this moment when the darkness
closes in and be cradled as in candlelight
encouraged as by bird song
a haunting vespers which invades
our inner silence and calls companions
and friends together out towards the light.