Advent Devotion: Turning the World Toward Kindness
Friday, December 15, 2017
During this Advent season, as I have been working with the text of Mary’s Magnificat, I have had my mind set on justice—the world is about to turn toward justice. The prophet Micah reminds us, though—and has reminded me—that justice is always woven together and wrapped up with kindness. The two walk hand in hand—as we walk humbly with our God—together affirming the dignity and the humanity of every person.
And so I have returned to the text and to the story, to look for the kindnesses—the quiet acts of tender mercy. I imagine Mary and Elizabeth, after Elizabeth has exclaimed and after Mary has proclaimed, sitting there, holding hands, talking in hushed tones, sharing each other’s fears and joys, at the dimming of the day. Later that evening, Elizabeth caresses Zechariah’s face with her hand while he sleeps. She has been waiting for him to be quiet and listen, and now she waits for the time when they can talk again. An innkeeper will say to Mary and Joseph, “I’m so very sorry that there isn’t any room in the inn, but there is a stable, and you are welcome to it, because no child should be born without shelter.” And maybe later that night she midwifes Mary in her labor. Shepherds come—awkwardly—because they have been summoned by angels. Perhaps they bring a meal for the family—because that is what we do at birth and at death. And I think of that moment—in the deep dark of night—when the shepherds and angels have all gone home—and Joseph snores in the hay—and Mary rests her head on her baby’s chest and listens to a heartbeat that will mean more to her than she can ever say.
Kindness offers shelter to those who are far from home.
Kindness cares for the poor.
Kindness fills the hungry with good things.
Kindness listens to voices that have long been silenced—offering the dignity of finally being heard.
Kindness stands between the vulnerable and the brunt force of power-over.
Kindness comforts those who mourn.
Kindness sings, in a mother’s voice, to her newborn child of love and hope and peace.
Today, what will you do to turn the world toward kindness?
Rev. Scott Clark
SFTS Chaplain and Associate Dean of Student Life