|Advent is the season of anticipation and today’s readings give us two poignant stories of families who grappled with disappointment in their hopefulanticipation. In the reading from Judges Manoah and his wife seem to be resigned to the reality that they will never have children when a visit from an angel from the Lord shares the news that they will soon become parents, Months later they welcome their son, Samson.
In today’s gospel from Luke we hear about Zechariah being visited by the angel Gabriel who shares that his wife Elizabeth will bear a son after years of not having children. Months later John the Baptist was born. Both women in anticipation of becoming mothers were urged by the angels to be careful about what they would eat and drink. My guess that after all of the years of their wanting to become mothers they would be very attentive to loving care of their children.
While there is joy in hearing the stories of two women who so wanted children becoming mothers, I think about those who never have their hopes and dreams realized. Elizabeth shares how devastating it can be to want children who never come. She says: “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.” I feel so sad that she felt disgraced during a time when her heart was already breaking for the children she wanted but who never came.
Today I pray for people who desperately want children but are not yet parents. I pray for parents who are separated from their children due to incarceration or migration. I pray for parents who see a child struggle with addiction, poverty or other issues. I pray for parents who adapted their dreams for a child with a disability. May these parents be free from shame and heartbreak. May we as a community remember that we all have experienced dashed hopes throughout our lives and may we share a spirit of support and compassion for one another. And may we remember to rely on the loving kindness of God in this season of Advent and always.