The Third Sunday of Advent is all about joy. The following prayer and meditation were written for Christmas Eve, but it is about the Joy of the season.
The Eve of a Birth Like No Other by Lisa Doege
In stark light, against a black background, a simple wooden manger
Holy One, Emmanuel, You are with us and we with You, now on the eve of a birth like no other, and a birth exactly like all others.
We ponder the dreams and foretelling—royalty, savior, the light of the world. Revolution and possibility wrapped in helplessness and vulnerability. Divine love incarnate. Can it be? Dare we believe?
We wonder what manner of birth shall this be?
Will we labor alone?
Or shall unknown hands assist?
Will there be joy in the pain? Danger?
A lusty eager, protesting cry of arrival?
A lifetime in a moment of heart-stopping uncertain silence?
We wonder who shall issue forth?
Our truest, bravest, most precious self in infant guise?
A leader for them all?
We fear indifference for the one to be born. We fear hostility for the one to be born. We fear for ourselves and the one to be born unending cycles of struggle, risk and failure; duplicity and betrayal; wandering, searching, wrong turns and futile leads; tyranny and oppression; invisibility and forgotten-ness. We fear disappointment, mediocrity, resignation. We fear, perhaps most of all, that the wholeness that will arrive will be so very different than the perfection we imagine, that we will fail to recognize holiness squirming in our grasp.
Breathe into us strength and tenderness, resilience and steadfastness for the birth soon to come —that body and soul might stretch and push with the labor rhythms of the universe, neither breaking nor abandoning the task. May our tears be of joy, exhaustion, amazement but never surrender.
Gently wipe the film of doubt from our eyes, firmly blow the dust of doubt from our faith, that we might see holiness and foresee redemption in the one, the many soon to be born. May our belief make a way through the wilderness.
Open us to the fullness of the birth whose time is so nearly come—the joy and sorrow, the unknowing and the discovery, the messy and surprising humanity, the incomprehensible and utter rightness of the miracle. May our meager expectations of what might be vanish in the bewildering revelation of what is.
Ready our hearts for the blessing of being, at once and all together, any age, any gender—midwife, mother, newborn babe. Praising and giving thanks for all that we help into being, for all that we bear into being, for all that is born into being through us and in us. May we move in the grace of this triple blessing, radiate the pulse of this triple blessing, rest in comfort of this triple-blessing. Midwife, parent, newborn babe.
On this holy night, this eve of everything yet to be, we dream together of a way and a world so transformed by a single birth, by every single birth, that the myths and music of the ages dim in its holy blazing light. And we pray: may it be so.