Epiphany:  The Rest of the Rest of the Christmas Story

January 6, 2023

For many Christians, the Feast of Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas Season and is the culminating celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  The story of the Epiphany is found only in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter Two, and it involves the non-Jewish wise men/kings/magi/astronomers (supposedly three, but no number is given in the text) who make their treacherous journey across the Middle East in search of the child prophesied to be the Messiah.  They bring their symbolic gifts of gold (kingship/royalty), frankincense (worship), and myrrh  (embalming/death) and present them to Mary before departing “by another route” to avoid alerting King Herod to the whereabouts of his kingly competition.  This story (factual or symbolic) is the last snippet we have of Jesus’ entrance into our world. 

An “epiphany” is any kind of manifestation, insight, inspiration, realization, vision, or understanding.  For these scientific men (assumed to be astrologers) from the East, seeing Jesus (who was probably a toddler by the time, not a baby in a manger or an indulged child in a palace) broke something open in them.  Their minds gave way to an unfolding of their hearts as they received the epiphany that this child was, indeed, the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures.  They became the recipients of an indwelling, the possession of a spiritual insight, that changed them, as understood by the metaphor of traveling home “by another route.”  Just as the lowliest of the low, the shepherds, were the first people invited to come see the newborn babe, these intellectual, rational foreigners were the ones called to experience an indwelling.  The birth of Christ was/is an invitation for all people to the Divine Light.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.”  So much of the world takes the stars for granted, just as the news of Christmas, of Epiphany, becomes old hat.  Maybe if we only heard this story once every thousand years it would shatter our world as it did the wise men’s, as it did the shepherds, as it did the Evangelist’s John’s when he realized (epiphany) that his beloved friend Jesus was truly God:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  God Itself—the creator of everything—put on our flesh; God, like the wise men, embarked on a dangerous journey to bring a gift, a light to the world, an understanding of who God is through Jesus, God’s own expression of God’s self:  “In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all people”  (John 1:4).

In Jesus, through Jesus, the Divine Creator invites us to see, hear, and know It in ways never before possible.  Epiphany.  Our own relationship to that cosmic, distant, impersonal God is changed because God gifts us access, not only by being with us, but by being one of us, living with with us, in our own real, torn, corrupt, and broken world, in the middle of our own experiences, our own weaknesses, our own confusion, our own pain, our own death. No matter how we may feel, who we are, or where we find ourselves, we are never alone.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5.)  That epiphany, the promise of light and presence and hope, is the rest of the rest of the Christmas story when we have the eyes to see, the hearts to receive, and the desire to go “by another route.”

May we all be graced with epiphanies!  ~  Rosemary


It can happen anytime, anywhere,
if we have the eyes to see
the hearts to unfold.
It happened to Anna and Simeon,
the old, hunched-over prophets
who understood
and rejoiced.
It happened to the teenage
girl, startled, confused,
perhaps too naïve to really understand
the truth
of the moment.
It happened to the lowliest
of the low, shepherds
smelling of dung and wet wool
and also
to kings threatened by the very
nerve of it.
It happened to rational scientists,
astrologers curious about a star-sighting
that flickered light across
a desert.
It happens when a yellow rose unfurling
beckons us to bend and savor its aroma,
when we wake up to humanity
gathered around us on the subway,
when our newborn baby
sounds its first cry.
It happens in cancer wards
as two people embrace,
in the quiet morning when a candle
first comes to life,
at the lunch counter
where the salt is passed,
driving past the beggar
who will work for food.
Our eyes open, sometimes
with tears. Our hearts clench
or even expand, our breath,
our spirit, catches,
and we know
we have been gifted an
a seed planted in us
an understanding granted us
a hope winding its way
through us,
a light illuminating
our darkness as we let forth
a sacred sigh
and bow our heads
in wonder.

©  Rosemary McMahan

Photo credit: Rosemary McMahan

The Psalms of Advent: Amen

December 16, 2022

“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms . . . .”  George Santayana

Twenty-one days ago, I began this series on The Psalms of Advent with the above quotation by philosopher Santayana because his words reminded me of the depth and width of the Hebrew psalms that contain all the joy and pathos, the wide kaleidoscope, of human emotions and give them safe space to be heard and received.  Over these past three weeks of Advent, we have been invited to listen to four different psalms, each one selected for worship on one of the four Sundays of the Advent Season.  This series has been a pilgrimage of sorts, seeking guidance, wisdom, hope, illumination, and inspiration from ancient voices singing ancient songs in Psalms 122, 124, 42, and 80.  Yesterday, I reflected on Psalm 80, which will be read in many Christian worship services this Sunday, December 18.  The entire psalm may be found here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2080&version=NIV

While the psalms were, in fact, written by Hebrew poets for Hebrew people in historic, personal, and often specific Hebrew circumstances, they still speak to anyone in search of the Holy and who longs for an honest relationship with the Divine.  Often what Christians claim to be prophesies of Jesus Christ in these psalms are in reality prayers for earthly kings and human messiahs.  Yet, as a Christian, I do see the promises of Christ in these songs of and prayers for peace, humility, righteousness, service, sacrifice, salvation, light, and personal and corporate relationship with Yahweh, the great “I AM.”  The shepherd in Psalm 80 resembles the Good Shepherd of the New Testament, the One born of blue-collar parents in a rural town under occupation by Romans, the One who taught that to love is to serve and to serve is to love, the Daystar that never quits shining no matter how dark and bleak the times might be.

So in these final days before Christmas or whatever celebration we await together, we wait and watch and remember and hope and sing and shine and say, “Amen,” which means both “So be it” and “Yes,” yes to all of life because the psalms have taught us that we are not alone in this vast and often lonely cosmos.  Perhaps that assurance is the greatest miracle of all.

Thank you so very much, whoever you are and whatever you profess, for sharing this Advent pilgrimage with me, whether you followed daily or dropped in from time to time.  Thank you to those who let me know you were present; your encouragement and presence blessed me.  I wish each of you and all of us the wonder of the shepherds, the serenity of silent snow, and the glorious joy of the choirs of angels.

Amen and amen~ Rosemary

Photo credit: Pixabay

Thursday, Advent Week 3: Shine

The Psalms of Advent, December 15, 2022

You are invited to light a candle and join me as we reflect upon the final psalm selected for Advent, as designated in the Revised Common Lectionary.  I hope you will sit with this psalm and listen for the word that Spirit is whispering to you. Today’s poem, Psalm 80: 1-7; 17-19, will be used in worship in many Christian churches the fourth Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before the celebration of Christmas Day, so it is appropriate that the word that draws me in is light

Psalm 80: 1-7; 17-19

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
(New Revised Standard Version)

The entire psalm is divided into four parts that by now may seem familiar to us:
Verses 1-2 call to God for assistance, with the psalm’s refrain, used three times, found in verse 3.
Verses 4-6 compose an urgent plea as well as a complaint about God’s treatment of the psalmist’s people.
Verses 8-13 (not included here) describe God’s past compassionate care and the present uncomfortable situation.
Verses 14-17 renew the petition and plea with the final verses repeating the refrain: “Restore us, Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

Shine.  Light.  Illuminate.  Beam.  Radiate.  Glow.  Enlighten.  Gleam.  We could string these words together and wind them around a Christmas tree, then bask in their healing power as shadows, fear, confusion, and uncertainty creep away.  The entire Scripture begins with a shining at Creation: “Let there be light.”  A column of fire leads the Hebrews through the dark wilderness to the Promised Land.  Yahweh’s presence shines so brilliantly upon Moses that Moses must wear a veil to protect the people from being blinded by his glowing face.  The psalms themselves call on, seek, and celebrate light while hundreds of years after the last psalm was written, the evangelist John writes of Jesus Christ:  “What had come into the world was the light of ALL people.  The light shines in the darkness . . . “  (1: 4).  A quick Internet check reveals that the word light is used anywhere from 272 times to 433 in the Old and New Testaments.

God, by whatever name we use to entreat, implore, praise, worship, scream at, dance with, weep with, keep vigil with, is Light.  Hannukah, Diwali, Advent, and other light-filled traditions shine with that truth.  We are recipients of Light, called to shine in whatever way, small or great, we can.  My prayer this Advent Season is that we all remember that the “light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5) and that we choose to shine with Love.

Shining with you ~  Rosemary


“Light your candles quietly, such candles as you possess, wherever you are.” ~ Fr. Alfred Delp, martyred in Nazi Germany, age 38

In the small still shadow of a darkened morning
before the screeching of this broken world repeats,
I strike a match and set it to a stub of wick:
an offering of light being birthed yet again.

Before the screeching of this broken world repeats,
I breathe sacred flame-glow into heart, psyche, soul
an offering of light being birthed yet again,
a single, slender candle singing prayer.

I breathe sacred flame-glow into heart, psyche, soul,
imagine the brilliance of a hundred million candles
burning quietly on the edges of every dawn
before the screeching of this broken world repeats.

I strike a match and set it to a stub of wick,
my hope for this wounded world one fluttering flame,
a single, slender candle singing prayer
in the small still shadows of a darkened morning.

© Rosemary McMahan

Wednesday, Advent Week 3: Deep

The Psalms of Advent, December 14, 2022

You are invited to light a candle and join me as we finish sitting with Psalm 42 this morning.  You may find this psalm at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2042&version=NRSVUE.  My favorite verse in all of the psalms is found in this one, where “deep calls to deep” (verse 7).  Within each one of us, at the core of our very being, is a Source that birthed us all, that unites us all, that loves us all.  That core goes by many names including heart, soul, spirit, being.  It is our private sanctuary, our Holy of Holies, where our greatest griefs, our most powerful fears, our most joyful experiences commune with the Holy.  Anything and everything is contained and deemed sacred and worthy here.

In this single psalm, #42, the psalmist experiences the myriad of emotions found throughout the Book of Psalms where deep communes with deep:

Deep desire: “My soul longs for you, O God” (vs.1);
Deep questioning: “When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (vs. 2);
Deep grief: “My tears have been my food night and day” (vs. 3);
Deep tension: “Where is your God?” (vs. 3):
Deep memories: “I remember as I pour out my soul” (vs. 4);
Deep joy: “with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving” (vs. 4);
Deep despair: “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” (vs. 5);
Deep faithful resolve: “Hope in God” (vs.5).

Yes, Psalm 42 underscores the barebone honesty where “deep calls to deep” with the conviction that in doing so, the relational connection between human and Divine never wavers.  There simply is no situation too deep for God’s presence, too barren of hope, which is why this psalmist, in the midst of depression and loss, can proclaim:

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life” (vs. 8).

As we leave this psalm of Advent, I wonder what is deep within you?  What is it that you thirst for?  Have you found satisfaction for that thirst?  In what or whom do you place hope when all seems buried in shadows?  How might these ancient words of an ancient psalmist touch you in the place where your deep calls to deep?

Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit: Rosemary McMahan

Tuesday, Advent Week 3: Where?

The Psalms of Advent, December 13, 2022

You are invited to light a candle and join me as we continue our journey with Advent Psalm 42, found here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2042&version=NRSVUE.

As mentioned in the previous blog, the author of this poignant psalm-song-poem was most likely in Babylonian exile or had just returned to Israel, perhaps Jerusalem, and was mourning the ruin and displacement of his Jewish people.  The word that speaks to me this Advent day is where, found in verses 3 and 10:  “Where is your God”?  In these verses, where is both question and demand.

As a minister for twenty years, as a spiritual companion, and as a Christian (along with any spiritual person) living in a secular society, I am quite familiar with the aching and/or cynical question, “Where is your God?”  I’ve heard it asked at the death of an infant.  I’ve heard it demanded after fervent, faithful prayers for a healing that didn’t happen.  I’ve heard it asked in times of natural disasters and horrifying wars.  I’ve heard it asked from good people when bad things happen.  In the dark shadows of a three-year depression and also when I watched helplessly while my mother succumbed to Parkinson’s disease and dementia, I asked it myself.  At times, I still do.  Where are you, God?

I admit that I do not have the theologically definitive answer to the question, “Where is your God when . . . ?”  I can only share my own personal ponderings and convictions.  First, I suspect that many of us imagine God, by whatever name we use, as our personal genie or lucky magic charm.  If we are good, if we are faithful, if we are obedient, if we do the right things and say the right words, then God “owes” us when trouble comes.  When God doesn’t “pay up,” we throw away the lamp, dismiss the genie, toss the charm and look elsewhere.

Secondly, we like to place blame on anyone but ourselves, and God is an easy target.  The problem, though, is that God isn’t the source of sorrow and disappointment.  Often what gets dealt us is a result of our own choices (the gift and challenge of free will) about what we eat, drink, breathe, where we live, who we choose to love, how well we take care of our bodily temples, etc.  And, often our lives are changed by others’ choices and actions, as well as those things over which we have no control.  Wars are a product of human greed, injustice, and evil, not of God.  Many natural disasters affect or kill hundreds of thousands of people because we continue to build where Mother Nature has said we should not.  Those who have lived before us have left a legacy of environmental abuse, along with the careless ways we live now, even though God trusted us to be good stewards of creation.  But it’s much easier to just blame God than to admit our own failings.

Finally, I believe God most waits and makes God’s Self known in the dark places.  The Franciscan contemplative theologian Fr. Richard Rohr has written that Christ didn’t die to “take away our sins” (whatever that actually means) but to take on all human suffering in order to demonstrate the God of love who is ever-present, ever-compassionate, ever caring.  Through my own personal experiences, I believe that the Holy One, the one Who Is, the “living God” (verse 2) will always be present in the darkest shadows where “deep calls to deep” (verse 7) in its rawest, most honest voice.  For myself as a Christian, this hope is the promise and meaning of Christmas.

Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit: Pixabay

Monday, Advent Week 3: Thirst

Psalms of Advent, December 12, 2022

You are invited to join me as we listen to Psalm 42, the second to last of the Advent psalms for this season of seeking, waiting, anticipating, and searching for the light that shines in the darkness.  Psalm 42 is familiar to many people because of the memorable imagery of the first verse:  “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, my God.”  The entire psalm may be found here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2042&version=NRSVUE

Have you ever longed for water?  Have you ever been really, physically, thirsty?  A long, hot hike on an August day in the middle of a desert in Utah taught me about thirst and the very real, human desire for water.  Halfway through the hike, under a blazing sun, I had finished my water.  It would take two hours to get back to the car and then to a gas station or café, and I passed no one who might share some water on the way.  When I finally found water, it was with great relief, gratitude, and rejoicing.

Have you ever longed for something else, been really, spiritually, thirsty?   Such is the case for the psalmist here. While he is most likely lamenting exile and the dispersion of his people, the Jews, this poem speaks to any of us in general terms of danger, loneliness, threats, grief, depression, anxiety, trust, and hope.  No matter who we are or what we believe, we have all, at times, been thirsty for an answer, an assurance, a justice, a reckoning, a solution, a Love that is bigger than our situation.

Thirst is not a choice, preference, or whim.  Because we are human, water is a necessity for life.  For this psalmist, so is God.  I go back to Psalm 1 and the image of the tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in due season.  Sometimes we do, indeed, go through parched seasons, but the hope that this psalm places in God is that these times are just that, seasons, and that if we stay grounded in the Divine, in the Mystery, in Love, in Light, we will again yield fruit.  This promise is one I root in my heart.

Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit: Pixabay

Friday, Advent Week 2: Praise

Psalms of Advent, Dec. 9, 2022

You are invited to light a candle and join me in reflecting again on Psalm 146:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20146&version=NRSVUE.  Yesterday, we sat with the word “sustains.”  Today, we look at the word “praise” which begins and ends this psalm as well as psalms 147-150, the final psalms in this ancient collection of poetry.  To whom is the praise directed?  To the LORD, a title that becomes a drumbeat, repeated eleven times in this ten-verse psalm.  The psalmist makes clear that the LORD is the one to be praised because it is the LORD, not mere mortals, not princes and kings, who has set prisoners free, lifted up those bowed down, loved the righteous, created heaven and earth, kept faith, sustained the orphan and widow, executed justice, and given food to the hungry. 

This psalm is a call to praise and a call to trust.  As one interpreter writes, “In biblical terms, to praise God is to live, and to live is to praise God.  Praise is thus both liturgy and lifestyle; the two are inseparable.” *  Think of our various practices of worship and the many different names used to praise the Holy One.  How often do we take that praise out of the sanctuary/temple/mosque/nature and into our daily, everyday lives where there are bills to pay, doctors to visit, work to be done, relationships to mend, bosses to be pleased, children to be fed, and on and on and on?  How might our lives and the lives of those around us be different, be better, brighter, more hopeful if we also made praise a lifestyle?

On these dreary winter days with the never-ending bad news a constant shroud, praise often seems the farthest action from our minds.  No doubt the Israelites faced many of the same troubles we do, including exile.  Yet they still sang praise and were encouraged to live praise.  There will also be something to complain, fret or worry about, and there will always be something to praise.  If our hope is to be Light-bearers and to shine that light into the darkness, then perhaps the practice of praise is the place to start.  We are breathing.  We are reading and writing and thinking and praying and hoping.  I am thankful for all of that this Advent, and I praise God for you.  Blessings ~ Rosemary

*The New Interpreters’ Bible, Vol. IV, pg. 1265.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Wednesday, Advent Week 2: A Poem

The Psalms of Advent, December 7, 2022

Since yesterday’s post on Psalm 21 and my thoughts on the word “presence” (https://wordpress.com/view/spirit-reflections.org), I’ve had a desire to write a poem about the presence of the Divine as my meditation on this psalm.  I thought of that Presence who revealed Itself in evening walks in gardens, in burning bushes, on the tops of mountains and in mountain caves, in crossing over to new lands, in the middle of a bustling, dirty city at census time, in the temple teaching, in the towns along the lake, in a boat on a stormy night with frightened friends.  But I couldn’t get that particular poem to take shape, so I followed where the words chose to take me, to this Poem of Advent:


“The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5).

In the early hour
of a sullen December morning,
leaden sky pressed against
the windows, rain drizzling down
glazed panes,
I light a candle.
Outside, the barren trees
seem wearied
as if they would like
to tuck themselves down
to rest upon the dampened
I light a candle.
Even the birds
have gone silent,
the clamor of a world
in turmoil too much
weight for their song.
I light a candle.
Has December always been
thus? Wars and rumors of war
traveling on the winter wind?
Justice and mercy crumbling
like mountains sinking
to the frigid sea?
Sly shadows desiring only to smother
the light?
Since the beginning,
has it always been like this–
darkness snaking its way,
measuring its forward motion,
to extinguish whatever shines?

The flame of the candle
burns on
steady and still
casting a single beam
against the spattered
window. I light another
and another
candle, shadows resist
and dissolve. The rain still falls,
the gray face of the sky
still peers through
the windows
yet the light shines on
and the darkness cannot understand,
cannot overcome it.
I open my lips
to whisper a prayer:
May I be the light,
may you be the light,
stemming from the Source
that continues to flame upwards
to sing.

My Advent prayer is that we be the Light-Bearers who carry the presence of the Divine Light into this much troubled and fractured world.  Blessings ~ Rosemary

© Poem and photo credit: Rosemary McMahan

Tuesday, Advent Week 2: Presence

The Psalms of Advent, December 6, 2022

Psalm 21 is abundant with words seeking to be heard and treasured in the heart:  rejoice, joy, desire, request, and love, as just a sampling:

The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, for ever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken. . . .
Be exalted in your strength, LORD;
we will sing and praise your might.
(Verses 1-7; 13. New International Version)

The word that beckons most to me, though, as I spend a second day in this Advent psalm’s company, is presence:  “Surely you have granted him (the king) unending blessings/ and made him glad with the joy of your presence.” 

Presence is such a rich word.  In a world where loneliness, isolation, and cut-off abound, presence beckons like a candle flame.  It is a sacred gift we give another, the gift of our attention, our time, our love, our company, our selves.  Sometimes words are not even necessary.  Presence itself says, “You matter to me.”

When I think of the nativity story, I realize the importance and demonstration of presence.  We find Joseph present to Mary, when he could have taken an easier way out.  We find Mary and Elizabeth, amazed pregnant cousins of different generations, present to one another.  We find angels (the highest of the high) present to shepherds (the lowest of the low).  The old prophets, Anna and Simeon, share their presence in humble and faithful anticipation of a promise.  And the child?  He is named Emmanuel, which means presence:  “God WITH us.”  If Jesus offered anything in his ministry, he offered the gift of his presence, particularly to those who mattered to no one else. The season of Advent reminds us that he still does.

So, I reflected on who has been present in my own life when I have been lonely, confused, or bereft.  Who are the people who have simply been with me?  Then I thought about who I have been present to when she or he needed someone, and who, right now in this “happiest time of the year,” would appreciate my presence.   When we are present, we bear the gift of God-Light, the same light God promises and shines on us.

Thank you for offering your gift of presence to me in this blog.  I am so grateful. Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit ~ Rosemary McMahan

Monday, Advent Week 2: Shaken

The Psalms of Advent

Greetings to you as we begin the second week of Advent and our communal journey to that which is life-giving and light-giving in this season of darkness, waiting, and anticipation.  You are invited to light a candle and join me as we unwrap the next Psalm of Advent, Psalm 21, verses 1-7, 13: 

The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, for ever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken. . . .
Be exalted in your strength, LORD;
we will sing and praise your might.
(New International Version)

Psalm 21 is another royal psalm about a king.  It begins with grateful acknowledgment for all that the Lord/Yahweh/God has done for King David and any other of the numerous kings of Israel.  It is verse 7 that captures my attention in the midst of this abundant thanksgiving:  For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.”

Shaken.  There is the word.  Certainly, kings and leaders of any type and nature have cause to be shaken, either by the events of the world or by rivalries.  If, in fact, King David himself wrote this psalm, he had much to be shaken about:  adultery and murder being two “concerns.”  Yet this king trusts enough in God’s love not to be shaken.

Shaken.  What a powerful word that applies not just to kings.  I think of the Ukrainian people shaken this past year by a neighboring country invading them.  I think of those Russian people shaken because they voiced their dissent and now find themselves in prison and their families in trouble.  I think of the victims of hate speech who are shaken by evil words thrust at them and shaken by what others, influenced by those words, might do to them.  I think of parents shaken when their children go missing; I think of those shaken by medical test results they never suspected; I think of the partner shaken by the unexpected departure of  the other; the person shaken by loss of income, and on and on.  I doubt any of us will get through this life without being shaken.  Yet, while the world and others might fail us, this psalmist claims that we will not be shaken by our unfailing trust in the Lord; instead, we will be grounded, come what may.

I am reminded of a season in my own life when I was shaken to the depths.  I clearly remember driving by a church at the time where the marquee posted a quotation by Corrie Ten Boom, a German concentration camp survivor (who watched her sister, Betsie, die there).  Ten Boom wrote, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”  There is NO pit SO DEEP that GOD (by whatever holy name we address God) is not DEEPER still.  That quotation became my lifeline.  It pulled me back to resurrection.

If seeking Light in the darkness is about anything, it surely is about hope, resurrection and new life.  It surely is about what waits at the end of the tunnel and across the empty desert.  It surely is about grounding in those times when we feel shaken.  It surely is about Advent.

Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit: Pixabay