Mary McGarry is International Programme Manager for Habitat for Humanity Ireland. Read her Advent Reflection below.
Your Word is a Lamp to my feet and a Light to my Path - (Psalm 119: 105)
I’ve taken this scripture from my father’s gravestone.
It may seem morose to begin an Advent reflection thinking of death and a gravestone, but I have always found this piece of scripture very comforting. Traditionally November is the month when we reflect and remember those loved ones no longer with us; and Remembrance Day recollects all those who sacrificed their lives in combat. Without our Christian faith death would have the bleak final say; but our hope is in the promise of God to be with us, the promise of renewed life, of resurrection and eternity spent in God’s holy presence.
Each year that renewed hope begins in Advent.
Advent is the time we turn our face away from death and towards the celebration of Christmas. We begin preparation for that wonderful remembrance of a different kind, a birth like no other. The recalling of the birth of Jesus Christ who came into this world, who transformed people’s lives, who sacrificed His life and gave us hope and renewed life.
Christians are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps, but how do we do this, particularly when life is messy and painful. We see so much suffering everywhere, it can truly become overwhelming.
As Christians we are called to go to those dark areas many would rather ignore; to help the poor, the widow and orphan, and those on the margins of society. Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organisation which works to answer this call. As a non-profit housing organisation, we work to provide a shelter and support the millions of people who cannot afford a decent home. Importantly, Habitat holds God at centre and with the guidance of God’s Word I believe it makes a difference in how we navigate the many challenges that arise. This year in particular has thrown such unforeseen global upheaval due to Covid19 and has left everyone grappling with uncertainty. But as Christians we can be confident that God’s Word will be as a lamp shedding light on our path, directing us in these uncertain times as we continue the mission to serve those most in need.
Lord, as we begin our preparations for Christmas may we be ever mindful of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Thank You for the opportunity to serve in some way. When the future is unclear or unnerving give us courage as we take tentative steps in the dark; illuminate our path by the guidance of your Word, and may we allow that Light to direct us so that we in turn can be a light to others. Amen.