The recessional hymn on the fourth Sunday of Advent at Bethesda by the Sea has traditionally been Hymn 56; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and this year was no different except that there was no recession from the church. For me, that final hymn has always been the highlight of the Season of Advent as we all herald in with those longing words the hopeful expectation of joy as we await the promised Messiah. This year, in this time, we long for so much, simple things once taken for granted such as a Sunday or Christmas service, dinner with family and friends, and reunions with those we have not seen in months without concerns of exposure to those who may have the coronavirus. This Sunday, I watched our live stream service to hear the story of the Annunciation. The Gospel of Luke proclaims the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, a person that our society would now call marginalized, and announces that she will bear “the Son of the Most High.” We call this the Good News, but I imagine to Mary this news caused a great deal of anxiety until she was reassured by these words, “For nothing will be impossible for God”

Nothing will be impossible for God. Good words for all time and for these times. As the Feast of the Incarnation draws near, we may see that the impossible, with God’s help, is as active now as it was in the Judean hill country long ago. The marginalized in the world and the incarnational love of God is revealed daily when servants of the Lord, do miraculous things according to His will: working in ICU’s, helping the poor of their communities, restoring sight to people blinded by hopelessness, creating new ways to tell the Christmas story, keeping hope and persevering in the face of adversity, and finding joy in the simple things in life, even if it is on Zoom. The Holy Spirit knows no boundaries of isolation rooms whether we are in physical or Spiritual isolation. May this Christmas Season bring a renewal of joy knowing that with God all things are possible and that like Mary, we too can be, “the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word”

For all who are separated from family and friends and those who are in physical or spiritual isolation and mourn in lonely exile here until the Son of God appears.

For health care workers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, first responders, and those researchers who have developed the corona virus vaccine through wisdom on high, who orderest all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.

For all who have died this year, and those who have lost loved ones or are in danger of losing hope free them from Satan’s tyranny that trust thy mighty power to save, and give them victory o’er the grave.

For all who long for employment, freedom from fear of want, and those who suffer from stress caused by the unknown open wide our heavenly home; make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery.

Lord we thank you for all the blessings of this life we have received this year, and the ones yet unrecognized, knowing that you have always been with us bind in one the hearts of all mankind; bid thou our sad divisions cease, and be thyself our King of Peace

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Merry Christmas,

Deacon for Port Ministry