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Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
I live in midtown Manhattan amid a forest of tall buildings— with many more under construction. Wandering among these massive structures, some with impressive cranes pricking the sky, can make a person feel insignificant by comparison—small, vulnerable.
I was present the dreadful day when two of the tallest buildings came crashing down in a deadly conflagration at the end of my island home on infamous 9/11. The magnificent city built from human ingenuity had become a target uncovering our formerly disguised vulnerability. Everyone felt it. In the days that followed, churches clogged with scores of those who had not set foot in one for a long while. This newfound en masse religious awakening did not last; but at the time, New Yorkers shared an experience of our fragile condition.
We all have occasions when circumstance underscores the precarious nature of our situation as creatures fashioned of frail flesh. And this was true for the early Christians. Paul found his way into prison and martyrdom; so too did many other followers of The Way. But in the meantime he rests confidently within God’s imagination, telling his friends that God alone “is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ.”
We read this doxology in Advent to help ignite our own imaginations about the true nature of Bethlehem’s child. We feel at risk when we consider our particular precarious situation, but this child will prove the antidote to our fear, for he will take on the burden of human weakness so that we can find strength to live with confident hope in the face of every adversity. This great truth calls us to embrace our better selves while kneeling in the straw cradle-side in Bethlehem.
Awesome God, you are my strength. You alone know the nature of my precarious situation. I will trust you as the child of Bethlehem takes on the burden of my weakness. Amen.
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Scripture Reading from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.