The Joyful Risk of Christmas | Sojourners

The Joyful Risk of Christmas

December reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle A
An illustration of a brown plant growing out of a grey tree stump with a shadow that's filled with vibrant colors and flowers.
Illustration by Alex Aldrich Barrett

A FEW YEARS ago, I set out to knit a baby blanket as an Advent prayer practice. Knitting is incredibly meditative and allows me to pray with focus and clarity. Knitting a baby blanket seems appropriate as the church awaits the arrival of the “newborn king.” I wish I could say I finished the blanket in time for Christmas. I did not. However, even that seems appropriate, as so much remains unresolved for Jesus’ community at his birth. Their political occupation continued, and even Jesus’ birth story reflects the impositions placed upon his family by the Roman Empire. God’s inbreaking happens under serious duress — but it happens nonetheless.

My favorite lines from the poem “Christmas is Waiting to be Born” by Howard Thurman are: “Where fear companions each day’s life, / And Perfect Love seems long delayed. / CHRISTMAS IS WAITING TO BE BORN: / In you, in me, in all [hu]mankind.”

Thurman reminds us that God was born into our sorrow and among those who are brokenhearted and struggling. That truth is so important to hold on to as we process years of our own collective trauma. No matter how unresolved things are, Christmas is born in us, too! In December we continue our journey through Advent and arrive at Christmas. We might not have received what we’re waiting for by that time, and very little may make sense. Yet, because of who God is, we open our hearts to the improbable, trusting that we won’t be put to shame.

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A graphic illustration of Vanessa Nakate, a young Black female activist with shoulder-length black hair and a jacket. She holds a megaphone; an orange background with blue, green, and red geometric shapes is behind her.
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