Trinity, Advent and Longing for a Baby

sleeping babySeveral weeks ago, I got the joyous news from my son Jonny and his wife Emily that they were expecting a baby.  They had been trying for a while, so they were very excited, and I was excited with them.  Not long after, Jonny called, and the tone in his voice intimated the bad news: Emily had a miscarriage.

Recently, Emily “opened up” about the whole experience in an article that she wrote.  As I read, with tears in my eyes, her transparently honest account of her feelings during and after her brief pregnancy, and thought of other friends who long for a child, I reflected on how the whole experience captures many of the desires and longings that are at the heart of Advent.  (Since many persons can relate to this, I’ve attached Emily’s article below if you’d like to read it).

Indeed, barren wombs and miscarriages are vivid reminders that we live in a broken world, a world that still needs healing, a world where the last enemy has not yet been fully conquered.  It is a world that longs for the coming of a baby.  One of the verses of my favorite Advent hymn expresses the longing this way:

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Continue reading

The Grim, Grinchy Hopes of Atheism

The Grim, Grinchy Hopes of Atheism

Hope is a remarkable phenomenon.  Hope gives meaning and direction to our lives, and nothing is worse than to live without it. This is graphically conveyed in the most famous line in Dante’s Inferno, the inscription that is written over the gate to hell:  “Abandon every hope, who enter here.”

Grinch2

And yet, hope is a two edged sword.  To express hope is to concede that all is not well.  Hope signals discontent, it acknowledges a palpable absence and beckons something not yet here.  To sing “O Come, O Come Immanuel” is to feel the cut of the sword.

And that raises one of the most fundamental of all questions: for what can we rationally hope?  What kinds and degrees of happiness and fulfillment are possible?  Can our deepest and largest longings for love, for joy, for peace, for justice ever be met?  Or must we cut the size of our hopes down to small and medium? Continue reading

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