Hope in the Age of Darkness: Gifts of the Incarnation
I wear it on my right hand. It was a gift Leah bought me years ago, and it has been one of three pieces of jewelry (not counting my watch) that I consistently wear. It is a James Avery ring with the two Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, intertwined together.
It has sparked some interesting conversations over the years. Each time I am asked about it, I take time to reflect on its meaning. It is so easy for me to get preoccupied with challenges in my life, and by comparison, they don’t always measure up to the true tragedy that so many people encounter in this life.
We have certainly known grief as we have experienced unspeakable loss in our family, but I have also known people whose lives have more resembled Job … who have endured plague after plague of suffering and death. I have witnessed people who have suffered losses that I am afraid would have been my undoing.
Yet the witness of so many of these people God has placed in my life is that God is bigger than their suffering. They witness to the reality that they would not have made it through suffering had they not been sustained by God.
God, for them, is what envelopes their lives, both the bright days full of comfort and the dark days full of suffering. They speak of an indescribable comfort and a strength that comes only through their faith.
John of Patmos, as he sets out to share what was revealed to him, is writing to the whole Church (identified as “seven churches,” which would indicate the number used to signify “whole” or “complete”). The primary message he has for all of us is that God is with us, sustaining us through the darkest hours of our lives. The message that we are not alone is powerful, and when we grow weary of the darkness, it is God who shows up as Alpha and Omega … the One who is and was and is to come.
It is a concept that is greater than our minds can grasp. As the earliest church grappled with persecution and suffering at the hands of Rome, it was more than conceptual. It was the source of their hope! Their God was made known through fellow followers of The Way, and they knew that, if they could stand with one another in the face of suffering and death, then God was most certainly with them from before the beginning and well beyond the end.
When we stand with one another in this way, we are practicing incarnation in its purest form!
God who is made known through your Church: Remind us always of your love that hems us in and that sits before us and behind us, above us and below us. You are our Alpha and Omega. Amen.