“Yet in the dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” “O little town of Bethlehem” 

In Advent, the scriptures that lead us toward Christmas invite deeper wonder as we take up the mystery: the prophets show us that God is in the unexpected, in nature, in each other. In Mark’s Gospel there are no angels or shepherds, no magi; no star, no baby. Instead, Mark begins with words from the Prophet Isaiah and the story of John the Baptist with an invitation to meet Jesus and to hear the good news of God’s kingdom. Prophecies and their fulfillment may seem strange and foreign now, but we find ourselves in stories of family, friends and community and of God being present in the ordinary, messy miracles of our lives.

The seasons of Advent and Christmas are filled with the presence of wonder, if only we remember to pause and open ourselves to receiving this gift. This Advent, I invite you to join me in practicing wonder. Let’s take a few moments every day to look at, and see, the beauty in our world; in snow, in bare trees and lights and in God’s people. Let’s prepare to meet Jesus, not just in the manger at Christmas, but along the way of our daily lives.

Today, we light a candle of HOPE. Perhaps this is something you can do in your home as well. As you light the candle, you may want to consider what hopes you have for this Christmas? Do they include your friends and family or are they deeply personal? What fears do you have? Can you share your hopes and fears with God? As we begin the journey to the manger in Bethlehem, let us ask God to open our hearts and minds to the wonder of the miracle of the incarnation – the Word made flesh!