Bearing the Light

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Sometimes what is most profound is in the details.

A beautiful Advent worship had been planned. A young girl, beloved by our congregation, with severe physical disabilities was invited to light the Advent candle. As she rolled to the front of our circle in her wheel chair, Gail (our pastor) realized she would not be able to bend to the table where the candles were displayed.

Gail lifted two candles from the Advent cluster, one already lit and one waiting for flame. Handing the unlit candle to the young girl, she held the other one in her own hand, catching hot wax as it dripped down the side. Arms reached toward one another as one light became two.

The service continued, but as Gail sat back down beside me, I saw the wax already cooling on her fingertips. This sight became to me a symbol of the presence I also felt– God with us.  I deeply admired Gail’s compassionate leadership, her impulse for inclusion, her sacrificial act to bear light for and with another.

Bearing light is not easy. It may result in hot wax on your fingertips, or other forms of discomfort and inconvenience as we make a way for the peaceable kin-dom to flourish among us. Being a witness to this light-bearing restored hope in me, and a renewed conviction about the light I am called to bear in places darkened by fear or despair.

However we hold the light and in whatever place, what was clear to me in that moment was the incomprehensible width of invitation. It is a light for all people, within all people, carried by each one. As we move toward Christmas, may we reach toward flame and heat held by others brave enough to guide the way, that one light may become many.

Let It Be With Me: An Advent Invitation

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” –Luke 1:38, NRSV

Entering another darkness
Edges lined in hope unseen–
Another practice in
Control released
Making space for what
I cannot make.

Approaching the unknown forming,
Straining to know and name.
Light will grow along
This path of promise
Shining on what must be seen
As I need to see.

Surrendering to mystery
Beyond comprehension,
A desire emerges
Greater than fear
And it opens in me
This willing yes.

Spiritual Practice: Allow this story from the gospel of Luke to come to life in you.

What does it mean in your life to say, “let it be with me according to your word”?
What Advent invitation for faithful surrender is emerging in you?
What does it feel like to live in humble uncertainty, releasing control? How might this be a sacred space of transformation and growth this Advent season?

Come to the Table: Maundy Thursday

by Ron Harmon

22 While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:22-25, 32-38 New Revised Standard Version

Jesus took basic elements of life and infused them with prophetic meaning and purpose. A simple invitation became a pathway of hope and healing to those excluded and forgotten. A worn wooden table became a new sanctuary of acceptance and abundance for all. Bread became a symbol of remembrance and future possibility where the hungry will be fed. A simple cup conveyed a love poured generously for the sake of a world waiting to be reborn.

I come to this Passover meal never fully prepared. My journey is incomplete. I am still wandering in the wilderness, seeking greater clarity, thirsting for life giving water, and yet still unsure of my heart’s deepest desire. I remember the sacred journey while a holy unsettledness deepens my awareness of a difficult but necessary path ahead.

Is this cup too much to bear? Fountain of generous love that calls me into remembrance, disruption, suffering, and resurrection – hear my faint prayer for liberation. Break through my tired patterns of living that lull me to sleep at your time of greatest need. I desire your company and also want to flee.

Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me courage to come to the table again – to remember and to risk something new – to receive the bread and cup, embody transforming love, and share the invitation to loving community.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How do the basic elements of the table, bread, and cup evoke sacred memory and invite you into God’s unfolding future?
  • What is your heart’s deepest desire?
  • How is the Spirit inviting you to become fully awake?
  • Who do you need to invite the table?