A photo of wooden nativity set with undetailed faces, surrounded by a golden ribbon and sitting on top of burlap cloth

When Hope is Hidden

Post Author: Rev. Merianna Harrelson

As we settle into the darkness of the changing of season, we are also being encouraged to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Light of the World as the Advent season commences. The juxtaposition of looking for the light in the midst of the darkness always brings a tension to this time in the liturgical church calendar. How are we supposed to look for the light when the daylight fades with each passing hour?

A photo of wooden nativity set with undetailed faces, surrounded by a golden ribbon and sitting on top of burlap cloth

Hidden Hope

For those of us attuned to events in the world, the darkness isn’t only a part of our experience as we walk outside, it is also a heaviness that hangs over us as we hear reports of nuclear power plants being compromised in Ukraine in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. In addition to these reports comes the news of the attacks on Poland. Suddenly, the setting in which Silent Night was written doesn’t seem quite so far distant. We are where others have been this Advent season, looking for hope in the midst of uncertainty. 

Is there hope hiding? Even within these reports are stories of people’s resilience, clinging to each other and community. Children are singing and playing violins in the bomb shelters. There are so many families taking in refugees, sharing food and shelter even with global rising costs. When the darkness seems to surround us, we find hope hiding in the most unlikely places. 

These stories peak our interest because this is how the Christ Child entered the world. The Divine came to an unlikely family in an unlikely place: a family who was living in the midst of occupation, a family in the midst of scandal as an unwed Mary was found to be with child, a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. 

Rather than looking for hope this season in the predictable places, maybe instead we will find hope hiding in the most unlikely places. Maybe as we open our eyes and hearts to being surprised, we will find the miracle of the Light of the World interrupting and disrupting our world even now, all over again. 

The Rev. Merianna Harrelson is the Pastor of Garden of Grace United Church of Christ. She is the author of Morning Light: A 30-Day Devotion Journey and Toast the Day: A 30-Day Prayer Journey. She is also a Spiritual Director.

Image by: Rev. Merianna Harrelson
Used with permission
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