Joy: An Advent Poem
by Luke Schumann
Where can we find joy
in a world that cannot recognize
the hope and peace
that Christ provides?
The answer, I think, lies
within the question itself.
Though in our world
we see destruction
caused by wealth
and power’s seduction,
the rumor making rounds
among earth’s poor
is that in our own midst
our Savior has been born.
And this truth
that we’ve been told
is neither fraction nor refraction
but rather, a course of action
which will truly set us free.
For this child whose birth
among the lowly
has come to level the highest of hills
and raise from the depths
the deepest of valleys–
his entrance the rallying cry
of the poor and disenfranchised;
his residence reserved
for only those the world despised.
And for this we rejoice
for with us now
is the Son of God, the King of Kings;
his presence the greatest gift
we can ever hope to receive.
How else can we respond
if not with joy, if not with hope
and dancing and laughter?
For our world will be
forever changed hereafter.
by the Kairos Center
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of the Almighty’s servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is God’s name.
God’s mercy is for those who fear God
from generation to generation.
God has shown strength with God’s arm;
God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
God has helped servant Israel,
in remembrance of God’s mercy,
according to the promise God made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
“The Magnificat is a revolutionary song of salvation whose political, economic, and social dimensions cannot be blunted. People in need in every society hear a blessing in this canticle. The battered woman, the single parent without resources, those without food on the table or without even a table, the homeless family, the young abandoned to their own devices, the old who are discarded: all are encompassed in the hope Mary proclaims.” – Sister Elizabeth Johnson, 2012
“The Magnificat was banned being sung or read in India under British rule. In the 1980’s, it was banned in Guatemala. In addition, after the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo—whose children all disappeared during the Dirty War (1976-1983)—placed the Magnificat’s words on posters throughout the capital plaza, the military junta of Argentina outlawed any public display of Mary’s song.” – The Subversive Magnificat: What Mary Expected The Messiah To Be Like
How have you perceived Mary in your life, and how has the reading changed your perception of her? We encourage you to reflect upon the verses and consider not just the Biblical but historical and culture impact of the Magnificat—have you opened your heart and home to the Christ Child, like Mary?
3rd Sunday of Advent
4 pm: Session Meeting
4th Sunday of Advent
4 pm: Longest Night Service
Saturday, 12/25 11am —1:30pm:
NOAH Foundation Community Christmas Day Dinner at Camden Falls, 2406 S. SR 231. Call for a reservation at 419-455-4569.
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Gather Us In
by Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity
Inspired by Zephaniah 3:14-20 | Digital painting with collage
King Josiah, Zephaniah’s cousin, has ascended to the throne of Judah. He steps into the aftermath of a half century of ruin incited by the former King, Mannaseh, who ruled with evil actions and led the people astray (see 2 Kings 22–23).
Much of Zephaniah’s prophecy is an exacerbated lament. He believes the only way forward is for Yahweh to destroy everything. Too much has been corrupted, too much has fallen apart. But then, in chapter three, his message takes an unexpected turn—he turns toward restoration and unabated joy. This joy comes from God, who renews and calms us with love, rejoicing over us with singing. It comes from those who are vulnerable and shamed being gathered back in, restoring the whole community.
In this image, the blueprint background reminds me of a deconstructed building; it’s as if the roofline has fallen and the infrastructure crumbled. Yet, the collapsed roof provides an opening that becomes a doorway of invitation. God’s hand reaches down from the heavens, gently nudging us inward. Fig trees adorn the opening as signs of promise. A music bar (showing the first line of the familiar hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”) lures us toward the doorway, becoming a pathway for our journey home.
Perhaps the path toward creating a home for all requires some deconstruction. Some of our structures are rotting. Some of our institutions are compromised. Some of our rituals need repair. And yet, nothing is beyond redemption. Collective belonging gives way for collective joy—joy that is free and full. God’s love will find a way to renew us and gather us in.
Here I find my greatest treasure;
hither by thy help I’ve come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
—Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity