by Pr. Sonja Hagander
I have come to deeply appreciate the poem “The Gates of Hope” by Victoria Safford. She’s a local poet and pastor. On this 4th Sunday of Advent in the Gospel of Luke, Mary sings. It’s commonly known as The Magnificat. Mary is a truth-teller. I like to imagine Mary, a young, unwed, teen mother, standing at the “gates of hope” speaking incredible words that shake us so we pay attention to what God want us to pay attention to: the proud falling, empty bellies filling, the rich leaving with nothing, the power structures that we know becoming topsy-turvy!
Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope--
Not the prudent gates of Optimism,
Which are somewhat narrower.
Not the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;
Nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness,
Which creak on shrill and angry hinges
(People cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through)
Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of
“Everything is gonna’ be all right.”
But a different, sometimes lonely place,
The place of truth-telling,
About your own soul first of all and its condition.
The place of resistance and defiance,
The piece of ground from which you see the world
Both as it is and as it could be
As it will be;
The place from which you glimpse not only struggle,
But the joy of the struggle.
And we stand there, beckoning and calling,
Telling people what we are seeing
Asking people what they see.
Dear Congregation: What do you see? Who will you tell?
In hope and gratitude,
By Kisten Thompson
“…that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear…” Luke 1:74
This verse is from the priest Zechariah, the father of John who later became known as John the Baptist. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both old and faithful servants of God but they had never had children. Until…one day, the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah when he was serving in the temple in the Holy of Holies, the innermost sacred space of the entire temple. And Gabriel told him, “Do not be afraid…your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you will name him John.”
And so it came to pass, just as the angel had said. When the child was born, Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke a prophecy, recorded for us in Luke 1:67-79.
This passage from Luke was the devotion reading I had for November 30. I was moved by all of the words (for they are quite familiar) but that morning, I was especially struck by verse 74, this declaration that we have been rescued from the hands of our enemies. I must confess that at times, I feel the grip of the enemy pretty tightly these days, especially now. The political news, the emerging health threat, another (!) school shooting…they all feel like they are enemies, conspiring to keep me from feeling very “rescued."
But, those feelings of discouragement don’t take away from the fact that I am “rescued from my enemies”. God remembered God’s people; God sent an angel to Zechariah and Elizabeth and promised them a son who would bear witness to the Savior of the world, the great “rescuer."
And because of that rescue, I can serve without fear. And that is the key-with fear removed, I can live fully, love completely, and serve faithfully.
So I wrote that morning, “Today I choose to live life without fear, full of love, gratitude and joy and to look for ways to serve.”
In these Advent days of waiting and watching, may you hear Zechariah’s prophecy and reminder that you have been rescued from the hands of your enemies, and really take it to heart. Life is not meant to be lived in fear. Ask the Lord to remove your fear so that you may live and serve in joy and gratitude.