Psalm 97 • Isaiah 62:6-12 • Titus 3:4-7 • Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” The line from the carol written by Phillips Brooks in 1868 touched me deeply as a child, tossed about by the mixed emotions swirling around the holiday, and it resonates with new timbre as the years have piled up. The hopes of the people of Israel kept alive through long years of suffering and nourished even in the pressure of the empire – the hopes and fears of America in the nuclear era in which I came of age and in the current moment of reckoning, our country’s aspirations and anxiety – the hopes and fears tumbled together as my family gathered for dinner or sat in the pew together on Christmas Eve.
Desire and terror, awe and love, coincide here in the bundled child in the manger and among the exhausted shepherds and stunned parents. Here in the birth of Jesus, as God enters into the world, the great fear that underlies all others is overcome, and the true hope that surpasses all other hopes is confirmed and fulfilled. Be here. Calm, bright, and still.
Holy and Loving God,
We give thanks for your love of all the years and pray for your
wisdom in the years to come. Amen.
The Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, ThD
Dean and President and Professor of New Testament
Seminary of the Southwest
Listen to Cynthia read her meditation and prayer:
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