Word of the Week

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:4-6

Today, many churches in their worship services will hear this passage from Romans in which Paul encourages his audience to live in harmony and with one voice glorify God. Yay Church! Crank up the alleluias. What if, though, the one voice glorifying God is not sweet and happy-clappy? What if the voice is more like the groaning mentioned in Romans 8:22, the moaning of labor pains, as we wait for the revealing of the children of God?

It was with such groaning that my wife, Sarah, and I waited for the revealing of our unborn son. This was our fourth and final pregnancy (see December 5th post) and things were going well. Our previous three pregnancies had been relatively smooth, so we felt confident. Then came our mid-term ultrasound, two days after Easter Sunday.

We knew something was wrong. The doctor and technician were giving each other intense looks. Finally they showed us into a consult room and gave us the news: spina bifida. Our unborn son had a neural tube defect. His spine was partially open, resulting in a dangling, vulnerable skin sack of fluid and nerves. They told us he might not walk. He might not be able to control his bowel and bladder functions. He might need a shunt placed in his brain to divert fluid. Our confidence vanished. We had lost our second child in infancy to a heart defect. Now it felt like lightning had struck us twice. Ironically, I had just preached about moving from loss to new life. That gospel was easy to proclaim on Easter morning. Now the idea of new life emerging from this loss seemed like a cruel joke.

They tried to encourage us. 1500 children are born with spina bifida each year. It is not fatal. Doctors routinely perform spinal closures right after birth. In the last decade or so, surgeons have also developed a procedure before birth. They cut open the uterus (like a C-section), close the opening in the baby’s back, and restore the baby to the womb for another three months (although premature delivery is a significant risk). It sounded like science fiction. The whole thing felt unreal.

The short version of what happened is that we traveled from North Carolina to Philadelphia to have the fetal surgery. There were potential benefits that we hoped would make our son’s life better down the road. There were also significant risks for baby and mother. As I waited during the surgery, I took deep breaths. I held it together but was ready to fall apart. Thankfully, the surgery went well. The next three months were very difficult waiting, because there was always the chance something else would go wrong. Yet this “defect,” this weakness in our unborn child actually revealed some unknown strengths in us. We were not really ready to shout “Praise the Lord!” but we were deeply thankful.

Paul’s letter to the Romans addressed a community in which the weak and the strong may have been struggling to live in harmony. They were waiting for the return of Christ, waiting for the powerful empire to finally fall, waiting for Paul to visit with an encouraging word. They were holding it together but perhaps on the verge of falling apart. The defects in their common life were visible and difficult, thus making it hard to praise God together. He encourages them, though, to have hope, to stay in struggle together. In our Advent waiting, we are aware of so many defects turning our worlds upside down. It is a time to groan but not alone. Can we groan in harmony? Groan together like parents who are told their unborn child has a problem, that lots of things could go wrong, but that there is reason to hope and risk. Groan together as we prepare for the best and the worst case, also learning that strength can dance with weakness. Can we, this Advent, groan in unison, weak and strong, wondering whether God is ever going to come and remembering that God has always been.

Let us pray:

O God of steadfastness and encouragement, grant us to groan with one another, as we wait for Christ Jesus, so that together we may with one voice, in agony and relief, in weakness and strength, glorify you.    

JoeHensleyThe Reverend Joseph (Joe) H. Hensley, Jr. works as a full-time priest at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Durham, NC. He lives with his wife, Sarah, and three children (ages 11, 6, and 2). This Advent he is waiting for God to help him laugh (again!).

The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst. Luke 17:20b-21

For hours, years, I’ve waited for babies and hoped with mamas, first as a doula, now as a midwife. It’s wonderful, waiting for the miracle of life to announce itself through a mother’s midnight phone call, “I … think it’s time.”

A first time mother frets about the unknown, a third time mother demands that she should have had her baby by now, if history holds. I listen closely, check that all are waiting safely, and reassure each woman that her time will come and she is fully equipped for the hard work.

I wait with near strangers and with dear friends, holding a safe space for the hard and holy work of new life: the gritty, glorious grace of birthing. I string beads at mothers’ blessings, reminders that each is encircled, supported, and loved. I give out candles, mail them to a mama’s far-flung friends so that when the good work begins, the candles are lit, day or night, rippling across the states. I keep vigil. I wait. I hope.

On call, each night I charge my phone, turn up the ringer, and fall asleep thinking of babies, mamas, and middle-of-the-night births. I wake, jolted by the call, or gently in the morning, surprised: no baby yet. It’s an exercise in patience, letting go. We talk about this early lesson in parenting: releasing control, trusting, hoping. She can’t decide when the work will begin or what it will look like, but she is an integral part of the process, a key ingredient in the concoction. The nuance of mother-baby communication is shrouded in mystery: some part hormone, some part divine wisdom, then the work begins.

I marvel at the miracle in the waiting: there’s a secret conversation between mama-body and baby-body, “Are we ready yet? Baked, prepped, fueled?” Until then, we wait, nourish, and prepare.

This time I’m waiting and preparing in a different way. My sister is adopting a little boy from Uganda, and I will join her for the journey across the ocean to meet a new nephew and bring him to his new home. There are no Braxton Hicks this time, no back pain, cramps, or leaking fluid to signal a slow and steady start. There’s just a cold, quiet phone. She turns up the ringer, goes to bed, and wakes up hoping for the call. The watched pot never boiling, she stokes the flame of her hope for a child not yet her own. She waits with agony and disbelief that these wheels will grind into motion, the court date will be set, and the final stretch of the journey will begin. She waits with grace and patience, recognizing the cry of the orphan reverberating in her own heart. Compassion wells up within, and her heart expands.

My heart expands with hers, and in this waiting, I glimpse God’s upside-down Kingdom in which peace is power and cast-offs are treasured above all. I taste the redemptive power of love and humility, the courage of stepping out to answer God’s call.

Each day without a baby is another day brimming with agonizing hope. Wait. Hold space. The child will come. Searching for God in the space, I notice the trust that can grow in the soft soil of surrender. I tune into the mysterious communication between God and our everyday lives.

God, the midwife, holding space, reassuring us that we are safe and equipped for hard work: to live in love and wait with hope as we allow our lives to unfold into new life.

I am humbled by the unknown, the mysteries, and I hope toward redemption and abiding love. I light a candle, string a bead, and hope for God’s unlikely Kingdom brought full into this moment through my watchfulness, my faithfulness.
And in waiting, hoping, catching my breath, I see how very honored I am to live within a Kingdom of Hope.

Let us pray:

God, please give me eyes to see your Kingdom of Hope, your promise of new life and abiding love, even as I surrender to waiting and holding space for the unknown.

SusanSmarttCookSusan currently lives with her dear husband and black lab in Edmond, OK where she attends St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. On any given day you will find Susan nurturing her small midwifery practice, her kitchen, and next year’s garden. Her hope for this advent is to be quiet, to reach deep into the soil of her soul with the tangled roots of her faith, and to find there the living water that nourishes new hope, love, joy, and peace into bloom.

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened

And the ears of the deaf unstopped.

Then will the lame leap like a deer,

And the mute tongue shout for joy. Isaiah 35:5 – 6

What does it mean to hope for a child whose prognosis is hopeless?

At our 20-week ultrasound appointment, my husband and I learned that our first-born son had a fatal birth defect. Somewhere in his earliest development, something had gone drastically wrong. Among other disabilities, his spine and skull had failed to close, leaving his brain tissue to be washed away by amniotic fluid rather than forming the intricate folds and connections that would allow him to see and hear and laugh and run. He would never gain consciousness and, without a functioning brain, his life would be very short. On that sunny May day, our doctors were gentle but firm: There was absolutely nothing that could be done – no surgery, no intervention, no treatment – that could save our son’s life. If he did not die before birth, he would die soon afterward. There was no hope.

We had waited for Ethan for a long time, through a whole year of early morning temperature readings and fertility charting, of monthly hopes and monthly disappointments.

The winter he was conceived we were studying the stories of the Sarah, Rachel and Rebekah in our Bible study group. Three generations of women all waited with this same longing, this same fear, this same hope.

The promise of God to create a people out of no people hung on the slender thread of a longed-for but unlikely pregnancy, generation after generation. Nothing they could do, or that we could do, could bring life into an empty womb. Only God could bring life out of barrenness.

When we realized that, finally, we were expecting a child, we knew his life was a gift from God, miraculous and undeserved. But now, our longed-for child, the one whose nursery we’d already planned, the one whose name we had already chosen, the one we had waited and prayed to welcome, was going to die.

I did hope for Ethan in those months of waiting for his birth. I hoped that he knew, in whatever way he could know, that he was deeply loved and cherished. I hoped that he was not in pain and that he would be spared suffering in his birth and death. I hoped to see him with my own eyes while he was still alive. I hoped that our friends and family would see his life as precious too. Those hopes were fulfilled on the day of his birth, as Ethan slipped into life and, two hours later, into death, surrounded by those who loved him.

But my gratitude for the fulfillment of those hopes did not take away the searing pain of all the hopes that would never be fulfilled.

One of the first Sundays after Ethan’s birth and death, I stood in church next to my husband as our congregation sang a song based on Isaiah 35: “Through you the blind will see, through you the mute will sing, through you the dead will rise…” we sang. Tears ran down my face.

What I heard in those words was a wild, unbelievable promise for my boy – that his beautiful feet would yet dance, and that his blue eyes would one day see, that his tiny red mouth would laugh and sing.  It’s a promise as implausible as the promise that Sarah would conceive in her old age or that Mary’s baby would free her people from oppression for all time.  It’s a promise for everyone who, like Ethan, is at a dead end, whose life is hopeless. Without the life-giving touch of God, there will be no life. But with God’s life-giving breath, anything is possible.

The promise and longing of Advent is that we wait for the day when every hopeless, barren dead-end in all creation will be filled with the breath of life. We wait for the day when we will feel a leaping within us, like the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, and know that it is the Holy Spirit, filling the creation with new life. These days of waiting are not unlike the days of my pregnancy with Ethan, as we grieve with shattered hearts for what will not yet be, and long together for what God has yet to breathe into being.

Let us pray:

Come, Lord Jesus, and breath your breath of life into all our hopeless, barren dead-ends. Fill us with the quickening of your Spirit. Amen.

olsongettyDayna is a member of Durham Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) and part of the Rutba House new monastic community. She and her husband Eric live in the Walltown neighborhood of Durham, NC and are parents of one living son, Noah.  Their firstborn son, Ethan, was born and died in 2009. Dayna is hoping this Advent for a heart open to God’s longings for the most vulnerable among us.

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-24

Joseph, the “step-father” of Jesus, did as he was asked. Although she was already pregnant, Joseph took Mary as his wife. I have to wonder whether obedient Joseph was also afraid or nervous. The angel in his dream asked him to do something risky and impractical, something he would not have done on his own.

On my own, I would not have chosen to have another baby. For months, my wife, Sarah, and I had gone back and forth about whether to get pregnant again. I should say, rather, that we went back and forth about whether I was game. I had legitimate reasons to be hesitant (at least they felt that way to me). We had two wonderful children already, out of diapers and able to feed themselves and sleep through the night. Did we really want to go through the whole infancy process again? With three children, we would consume more energy (the minivan purchase was inevitable) and produce more waste. It would mean one more college tuition, etc. On a more intense note, our second child had died in infancy a few years before due to a heart defect. Although we had taken a leap of faith bringing our third child into the world, I worried that another child could mean another opportunity for tragedy. I also feared, given the stress of my job, the demands of family life, etc. that I would not have enough inner resources to handle being “outnumbered” by the children.

Sarah was very patient while I wrestled. For her this was less about decision-making and more of a discernment process. Something very deep inside her (and maybe beyond her) desired another child. Eventually I realized that the depth of that longing was more profound and mysterious than the shallowness of my fears. My fears were not illegitimate, but they had no soul.
Joseph could have dismissed Mary quietly, the scripture says. He would have been within his rights to do so. He had good reasons. His dreamtime visit from the angel, though, convinced him to take a more mysterious path, to wait in hope that this impossible pregnancy was actually part of God’s plan. I could have dismissed my wife’s desire for another baby, but it just happened to be Advent. I was hearing the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary and angelic visitations. I kept running into references to pregnancy and trust. Something deeper than my fear whispered, “Do not fear.” Without any planning, we got pregnant again.

So began the wait for our next child. My impossible hope was not that the baby would come (I trusted that would happen) but that I would be ready. Although I had taken the leap of faith, I was not convinced that I would be able to handle the journey. Surely Joseph had also wondered, “can I do this?” even though he did what he was told?

As I watched Sarah’s body expand, I waited for confirmation to grow that I would have what I needed. In many ways that sense developed in me like an unborn, unseen child. There were signs that it was happening, signs of grace growing slowly. It was not morning sickness exactly, but there were mornings where I found myself awakened early by my anxieties only to have those fears be surrounded by a strange peace in the quiet darkness.

As we wait for Christ, we wonder if we will be able to welcome him when he arrives. We fear he may ask the impossible of us. We are hesitant to say ‘yes.’ The messengers of God, though, are speaking to our hearts, telling us not to be afraid, encouraging us to wait and be obedient as impossible faith takes form.

Let us pray:
O God  
who knew us before we were born, you believe in us before we believe in ourselves. Send messengers to us to remind us that your power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Grant us to accept your invitation to care for the unborn faith growing in our hearts as we wait for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


The Reverend Joseph (Joe) H. Hensley, Jr. works as a full-time priest at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Durham, NC. He lives with his wife, Sarah, and three children (ages 11, 6, and 2). This Advent he is waiting for God to help him laugh (again!).

“Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”
Matthew 1:19-21

I had a mix of joy and dread as I waited for our son to be born. It’s not that I didn’t want a son. I just feared that I would somehow screw things up. I also couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a father.

When I thought of having a baby, I couldn’t see how the details would all work. Having a child, in many respects, is a leap of faith. We say yes to this great unknown without any guarantees about what the future will look like or how our lives will change.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions where we anticipate future failures, future conflict, and future regret.

All of these anticipated failures made up enough scenes in my mind to fill up several made for television movies.

In the months that followed the birth of our son, I’ve often meditated on the story of Joseph, the Father of Jesus, who had to take one of the larger leaps of faith. I found someone I could relate to in Joseph, even if our stories diverged in many ways.

Having children is both normal and a dramatic leap of faith. I think we forget that because it’s so common. However, when you’re in the middle of it, the anticipation can be kind of maddening. You’re forced to confront all of your inadequacies and insecurities. You’re going to be completely responsible for this tiny little person.

I can only imagine the pressure that Joseph felt.

He was put in charge of an extraordinary child and included in God’s plan of salvation.


Mess this up, and there won’t be any Messiah for Israel. No biggie.

Where did Joseph find the strength to take this enormous leap of faith? How did he choose to sacrifice his reputation and take a risk that Mary was really telling the truth?

He didn’t.

While Joseph was going to be nice enough about the whole thing and we get the sense that he truly did care for Mary, he didn’t have the faith or strength to take on this enormous unknown of becoming the father of the supposed Messiah. It took divine intervention.

Joseph didn’t seek out God’s help. God practically chased him down, waiting to pounce while he was sleeping. It took a visit from an angel to assure Joseph about what he had to do.

That’s reassuring to me.

Sometimes the “heroes” of our faith seem larger than life, taking bold risks that we could never see ourselves making. We get discouraged when our day to day struggles weigh us down.

I felt terribly guilty and awful and inadequate with all of my fear about becoming a father.

Shouldn’t I want to be a father?

I did, but I also feared it mightily.

God didn’t chase me down in my dreams, but he kept placing me in the company of friends who cared enough to ask how I was doing and to pray for me when I told them I wasn’t doing all that great.

It took these prayers around a kitchen table or while taking a walk down our street to prepare me for fatherhood. That leap into parenthood felt like the biggest challenge of my life. In retrospect, I found that my friends passed along God’s strength to far it with courage and to rejoice in my new role as a parent responsible for a little boy.

I wouldn’t change anything about my life today, and a big part of that is because God healed the fear that held me down through the prayers of others.

That serves as a reminder that when I face another leap of faith, there’s a good chance I won’t feel ready for it. In fact, I know I won’t be. I never was before.

EdCyzewskiLet us pray:

As we face the challenges of this day, Lord, help us to remember that you are always with us. Help us to take leaps into the unknown of waiting for what we cannot see.

Ed Cyzewski lives in Columbus, OH with his wife and son and attends a Vineyard congregation. He’s is the author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life and co-author of Unfollowers: Dropouts, Detractors, and Doubters of Jesus (WPH 2014). He writes at www.inamirrordimly.com.

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Then he blessed them and told Mary, “This child of yours will cause many people in Israel to fall and others to stand. The child will be like a warning sign. Many people will reject him, and you, Mary, will suffer as though you had been stabbed by a dagger. But all this will show what people are really thinking. Luke 2:34-35

I do not remember the prayers that were prayed when I was baptized, when I got married, or when I was first commissioned for ministry in a little Baptist church in rural North Carolina. At every important juncture, since before I could understand the words, people have prayed for me. My whole life has been clothed in a handmade quilt of prayer. But I forget most of the words.

Which is why this five-word prayer that a friend scrawled on a card when my wife and I were in the midst of adopting our first son is precious to me. I’ve never forgotten it.

“Blessings on your unusual expectancy.”

As I recall, this prayer came to us about six months into an expectancy whose due date we could never quite pin down. We had not set out to become adoptive parents. We prayed for a child and told God we’d be happy to welcome it however it might come. That same week a friend sent an email saying that the foster son of a mutual friend had been freed for adoption and needed a permanent home. Might we be interested?

We met the boy, which sealed the deal, I suppose. We jumped on a trampoline, played with a football, and learned to discern his two-year old jabber. In the natural course of things, as I understand it, women go through a nine month process of embracing their maternal instincts. A dozen dads have told me that, for them, it all became real when they saw their child for the first time—when the doctor who’d just delivered their baby wrapped it up and put it in their arms. I’m the father of two—one adopted child, one biological. Best I can figure, I started becoming a dad the day I met my son, jumping on a trampoline.

It didn’t happen all at once, of course, which is why I hardly realized I was becoming a dad at first. We signed up for adoption classes, had a home-study done, changed our locks to bring them up to code and installed a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. (Good thing we adopted first, I tell my wife. None of the baby books tell you to install a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.) All the while, we spent weekends with the boy, amazed how quickly he was growing up. And hardly realizing that he had our hearts.

Then the adoption committee at social services called to ask if we would come in for an interview. Another piece of the process, I thought. I put the appointment on my calendar. When we showed up, a few minutes early, the couple ahead of us was just coming out of the meeting room. I looked them in the eyes to greet them. It wasn’t until they looked down that I felt in my gut what was happening. They were here for the same reason—for the same boy. And this committee had to decide who the best parents for this child would be.

It was about this time that the card came in the mail: “Blessings on your unusual expectancy.”

Unusual indeed. And agonizing. Hope, I suppose, is necessarily an expectancy. But it is a thing with feathers, Dickenson said, because for all if its potential to take off and fly it is, like a bird, fragile. Our unusual expectancy taught me just how fragile Christian hope is. It throws our doors open to the stranger, who just might steal our hearts. But it does not promise that the child we love will become “ours.”

Let us pray:

Lord, may we in this day open ourselves to Jesus—that we might let him steal our hearts, even—but that we would know in this unusual expectancy that He is not “ours.” Help us wait with reverence and fragility for a hope that is real.

JonathanwilsonhartgroveJonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a father of two. He and his family live at the Rutba House, a Christian house of hospitality whose stories Jonathan tells in his new book Strangers at My Door (Random House). This Advent, Jonathan is looking forward to watching a new Rutba House being built one block down the street.

Our Advent "Baby Jesus Blog" devotions begin today. Follow our postings each day of Advent. To learn more about the scope of the project click here.

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13)

On your mark….get set….wait!

Advent is here! The work of this liturgical season is to wait for the birth of a baby Savior. Of course, while I wait I will decorate the house. And buy presents. And bake those peanut butter rice crispy treats with the chocolate topping that are so calorie-filled I only make them once a year.

The days of passive, peaceful waiting are officially over. Here in Advent 2013, waiting is an opportunity to check our email, make that last phone call, or use the online options available on our teeny-tiny screens. Most of us today are busy wait-ers. We are active in our waiting, prepared to fill any downtime with semi-productive scrolling through our phones.

So what does Advent, the season of waiting, have to teach us in this active age?

In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus suggests that while we wait for him to come, we need to do the work it takes to be prepared for his coming. We need to have gone to the store, and bought oil, and trimmed the wicks on our proverbial lamps, so that whenever Jesus comes, we are ready. This passage suggests that we are to practice a sort of active and prepared waiting. By one read, Jesus seems to be advocating a certain sort of busy-ness as we wait for him to come.

Perhaps the concern of Advent is not our busy-ness, but what we are busy with.

During Advent, we are waiting for the birth of Jesus; we are waiting for Jesus to come again into our world. And the work we are called to is the work of preparing our lives for Jesus’ coming.

When I spend my time decorating and shopping and making chocolate-peanut butter treats, I am preparing to have a meaningful, memory-making time with my family. I am preparing a web of warmth and love that I hope will hold my children through a world that is too often harsh. I am doing good. But I am not doing the work of making space for Jesus to come into my life. I am busy, but I am not busy preparing a space for Jesus to come into my home through the stranger, the hungry, or the recently-incarcerated (all those people Jesus says he will come disguised as a few verses later in Matthew 25).

This Advent I will be an active wait-er, just as I have been every Advent of my life. But this Advent, I want my activity to reflect what I am waiting for. I want my activity to reflect my hope…my hope that Love will be successfully born into the world once more. What do we need to do in the next four weeks to be ready for that sort of birth?

Let us pray:
Lord God, teach us to wait for you. Reveal to us what we need to change in our lives for you to be able to come into the world. Claim our busy-ness for your kingdom, and keep us ever mindful that you are the hope, the light, and the end for which we wait. Amen.

SarahJobeSarah Jobe is an ordained Baptist minister, prison chaplain, teacher, and mother of two. She lives with her family at the Rutba House, a Christian house of hospitality in Durham, NC. She is the author of Creating with God: The Holy Confusing Blessedness of Pregnancy. As a prison chaplain, she is hoping for the reconciliation of mothers and their children this Advent.