Speaking Hope in a Time of Chaos and Grief

As I begin to write this Christmas reflection, I realize that I have no words adequate to the task of speaking hope into the sea of chaos and grief that has been the reality for so many this year. I have learned over many years that when I am at a loss for words, the Spirit may be inviting me to stop, be still, listen, and wonder.

In the quiet and stillness of the early morning hours in which I am attempting to write, the words that come are not my own but rather the opening phrases of Daniel Kantor’s poignant and hope-filled song, “Night of Silence:”

Cold are the people, winter of life,
We tremble in shadows this cold endless night,

I am struck by how aptly these words, written nearly forty years ago, speak into our current context. A question born of grief and fear emerges for me. “What casts the shadows in which I tremble?” I don’t know if this is a helpful question for you, but I invite you to spend a few moments in quiet and stillness pondering Kantor’s words. What question emerges for you? Spend some time listening, wondering…

I find my mind recalling another phrase from “Night of Silence:”

Gentle on the ear you whisper softly,
Rumours of a dawn so embracing,

Despite the overwhelming sense that this long “winter of life” will never end, a question born of longing emerges for me, quietly in the distance. “What rumors of dawn are softly whispering in my soul?” This may or may not be a question that speaks to your soul, but I invite you to spend some time listening, wondering…

My mind once again moves through the text of Kantor’s poetry and rests on the final phrases of his song:

Shimmer in the sky so empty, lonely,
Rising in the warmth of your Son’s love,
Star unknowing of night and day,
Spirit we wait for your loving Son.

Courage stirs in my soul and I allow myself to receive two questions born of hope. What do I see shimmering in the empty, lonely sky of my life? What is waiting to be born in me? In the stillness and quiet of the moment, my heart ponders these questions. These questions will companion my journey during the coming days. I invite you, amid the clamor and busy-ness of these days, to spend some time listening, wondering…

I invite you to make space each day during this season for stillness and quiet to receive the questions that continue to emerge for you. Hold your questions gently, as the precious gifts they are, and ponder them in your heart.

May the Spirit of hope, peace, joy, and love provide rest for your soul and fill your heart with wonder during the coming season of Christmas!

Rev. Kevin Brown
Associate Conference Minister of Faith Formation for Children & Youth

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2023