Chelsea Van Der Poel explores how regardless the season, God's goodness creates a hopeful new day.
On the second day of Advent, 2021, Jessica Morris explores the restoration and hope we have in Jesus’ birth.
Labouring into the dawn
Come, let us return to the Lord;
for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;
he has struck down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers,
like the spring rains that water the earth.’
Hosea 6:1-3 NRSV
During labour, Mary’s night must have been unbearably long. After an uncomfortable journey to Bethlehem, filled with anxiety about where she would birth the Christ Child, the pains of labour must have been like the groans of her soul – exhausted, weary, yet expectant.
In that moment, Mary carried the weight of her people. The pressure to deliver the long-expected Messiah rested solely on her shoulders. Could she do it? Could a young, first -time mother, herald in the sacred entrance of the Saviour, through blood, and skin and fluid?
The world has been groaning for Christ’s return since Creation. And in our lifetime, we are witnessing the painstaking throes of its labour. Like Mary, who looked towards the dawn of Christ’s birth, we have stumbled toward the hope that this injustice will cease. In pain and suffering we have persisted, and many have borne a hidden burden comparable to Mary’s excruciating, yet sacred labour.
Yet Mary persisted – because she knew the words of the prophet Hosea. She believed that by returning to the Lord, “he will heal us.” That though “he has injured us…he will bind up our wounds,” (Hosea 6: v1). This would have been a visceral promise for the expectant mother – trusting that God would save her people, and protect her body, mind, and soul through pregnancy and birth.
Hosea goes on to promise that, “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” In labour, Mary prayed for the restoration of her body and her people. 33 years later, Mary would realise that her once infant son had become that restoration – sacrificing himself, so we could live in the promise that the dawn will always come.
In the long nights of our lives, let us remember the faithfulness of the young woman from Nazareth. Who, knowing that Messiah would surely come, birthed hope and promise to the world. Mary did not give up – she showed a faithfulness in spirit that surpasses physical exhaustion and persecution. She knew that, as Hosea 6:3 says, “he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” And she would help deliver that hope to a groaning world.
Jessica Morris is an internationally published journalist, author and podcaster (‘Between You and Me’) who lives on Wathaurong Country. She is passionate about sharing stories, breaking religious taboos, and experiencing God through music. Her memoir, ‘When Hope Speaks: Thoughts on Faith, Hope, Love (and Depression)’ was released in 2016. Her podcast ‘Between You & Me’ is now available on all podcast platforms.
This Advent we recommit ourselves to being bearers of hope.
Thank you that your birth, death and resurrection, is our promise that the morning will come, and you will return.
Equip us to carry and birth your work of justice and redemption – knowing that until Kingdom come, you are actively at work through our groans, tears and labour.
Photograph: Tim Everist, Sunset, Gumbaynggirr Country, Mullaway Beach (Arrawarra), New South Wales
Visual Description: The sun is setting behind scrubland. In the foreground, the ocean washes up against rocks and a long, sandy beach.