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Daily Devotional • December 24

Elizabeth Baumann
Waiting for Light
A Reading from Baruch 4:36-5:9

36 Look toward the east, O Jerusalem,
    and see the joy that is coming to you from God.
37 Look, your children are coming, whom you sent away;
    they are coming, gathered from east and west,
at the word of the Holy One,
    rejoicing in the glory of God.

1 Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
    and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.
2 Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God;
    put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting,
3 for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven,
4 for God will give you evermore the name,
    “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.”

5 Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height;
    look toward the east,
and see your children gathered from west and east
    at the word of the Holy One,
    rejoicing that God has remembered them.
6 For they went out from you on foot,
    led away by their enemies,
but God will bring them back to you,
    carried in glory, as on a royal throne.
7 For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low
    and the valleys filled up, to make level ground,
    so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.
8 The woods and every fragrant tree
    have shaded Israel at God’s command.
9 For God will lead Israel with joy,
    in the light of his glory,
    with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

My husband and I once visited a woman from church and her husband who was deaf. She had never talked much at church when we saw her, but when we visited, she talked! I imagine because her husband couldn’t hear her, she was just grateful for people to listen. She talked about anything and everything, none of it very important. 

I remember that visit when I think about St. Elizabeth, her dream suddenly made real by God, like the dream described in Baruch. Here for nine or ten months, she’s lived with a husband who cannot speak to her, and who has been pent-up, deaf to God’s promise. Surely, one of the joys of Mary’s visit was simply someone to talk to. Then their child is born, and she has to insist to her neighbors that she knows what she’s going to name her son, and when Zechariah is asked and backs her up, his voice is finally released. Imagine her overwhelming joy when not only does she hear his voice again, but she hears him filled by the Holy Spirit, affirming what she herself saw in God’s promise, speaking a beautiful prophecy over their miraculous child.

In this moment only three people have a real clue what’s breaking into the world: Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary. They share a precious secret. The prophets’ vision is unfolding in front of them. With John’s birth the first part of that secret is told: a secret that won’t be told in full until the Holy Spirit, the same who has come to each of these three, is poured out at Pentecost.

In her wisdom the Church has replicated the path for us to retread year by year. Advent is a waiting period. We’re waiting for the light to dawn. We’re adjusting, watching, getting ready. Tonight it comes to close, and we start out once more following the Light in the remembrance of his birth and life, death and resurrection, ascension and Pentecost.

For God will lead Israel with joy,
    in the light of his glory,
    with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Brooklyn, New York
The Diocese of Okinawa – The Nippon Sei Ko Kai
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