Day 1/December 25 Devotion

Reflection by Hephzibah Penumaka, Vicar at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in McLean, VA

Merry Christmas! Today is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Unlike other years where we gather in crowds and fill the churches to celebrate Christ’s birth, our celebrations are smaller and quieter this year. However, one thing has not changed in our Christmas celebrations for this year, and it is to examine what is important to us. This pandemic challenged me to deeply examine every aspect of my life even more in my faith journey. During the season of Advent, I tried to deconstruct the definitions of the themes we explore in the season of Advent- hope, peace, joy, and love. I am then reminded of a beautiful picture I saw on social media two years ago.

It is a beautiful portrait of Mary comforting Eve drawn by Sister Grace Remington from the Sisters of Mississippi Abbey. In the garden of Eden, Eve clutches the forbidden fruit in her right hand while the tail of the serpent coils on her ankle. Standing on the opposite side of her is Mary, Jesus’ mother, placing one of Eve’s hands on Mary’s pregnant belly and cradling Eve’s face in the palm of her left hand while stamping on the head of the serpent. In this powerful image, I see hope in which Mary reminds Eve that the child in her womb has freed her and humankind from the bondage of sin. I see peace as Mary cradles Eve’s face to show her that she is not alone in her bondage. I see joy as two strong female figures who changed the course of humankind in different ways, find strength in each other. More so, I see love because it is Mary’s love for God that she is willing to risk her life to give birth to our Savior so that others can feel God’s love through him. Therefore, my understanding of these themes of Advent isn’t what the world teaches me but what Christ brought to this world and has united us in his act of grace. Therefore, the source of my hope, peace, joy, and love is Christ and I hope that is the case for you too. As children of God, we are assured by the love and grace God has shown us. Therefore, I encourage you to show that love and grace to others in the way Christ has shown us in his life, death, and resurrection. This is how we can truly celebrate Christmas. 

Luke 2:11-12

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Questions to Ponder

  1. What does hope, peace, love, and joy mean to you? 
  2. Are these terms framed by spiritual understanding or a worldly perspective? Is there a way to balance both of these perspectives? 
  3. Look up the image of Mary comforting Eve. What caught your attention? How does it shape your understanding of Christ’s sacred mission on Earth?

Silence for Reflection

Prayer

Lord, we thank you for sending your son who gave his life to save us. Provide for those who are facing all kinds of challenges due to the pandemic and comfort those who have lost loved ones. Guide us in understanding the meaning of hope, peace, love, and joy the way you intended it to be. May we share the love and grace you have shown us through your Son, Jesus, to our neighbors. In your most precious name, we pray, Amen.

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