Advent for the Heavy-Laden

A poem for Advent by Allison Woodard

I see you,

sitting there swaddled in your grief,
doubting, but perhaps wanting to believe,
wishing for hope where there’s only disappointment,
wishing for joy where rage has taken up space instead.

There is no shame if the season of enchantment
finds you disenchanted.

It is the season we are expected to believe
in miracles and magic,
in peace and goodwill, as if we could
simply cast off the anxiety and skepticism
that shroud our lives the rest of the year.

It is a fearful time to be alive with the knowledge
of what was, and what is, and what could still yet be,
steeped as we are in a privileged awareness
that threatens to suffocate our souls.

So for the anxious and for the exhausted,
for the confused and for the despairing:


Don’t be afraid
if your assured belief feels more like fragile hope,
if your easy prayer falls more like heavy silence,
if the wind has blown through your sturdy theology, leaving
in its wake only a cavernous mystery.

For this is the season of hope,

and of silence,
and of mystery.

This is the season of God as a baby;
When the song of creation
Is a lullaby
And we are all allowed
to be as vulnerable
as the vulnerable God—
Gentle with ourselves
in all our wondering and wandering,
our skepticism and our disappointment,
our waiting and our striving.

The Christmas story—make no mistake—is a story of empire and politics,
of violence and revolution,
of fear and trembling.

But it is also where we discover
that creation’s violent battle march
is stilled by a newborn’s cry,
that the antidote for an unstable world
is a stable-born baby,
and that the good news comes first
to keepers of smelly flocks and star gazers outside the chosen tribe—
the ones whose hands are in the muck,
whose hearts are wandering and
whose minds are confounded.

May we not reverse this song of subversion,
but allow ourselves to be sung into rest,
carried in our weight on this anxious planet
in the arms of mother God,
who birthed a plan for renewal
through the womb of a bewildered virgin,
and whose message is
that he is closer than we think,
more gentle than we imagine.

If we bend our ears in our brokenness,
It wont be long
before we hear the strains of Good News

~atw 11.20.19

Love Providence

Join us at Sanctuary Church this Christmas seasons as we care for foster  children and their families in our city.


This year our WRAP AROUND ministry is partnering with Bags of Hope to provide thousands of duffle bags to children in foster care, embroidered with their name and filled with age appropriate comfort items (i.e. pillow pets, journals, fleece blankets, etc). Children in foster care often store their personal belongings in a trash bag – the goal is to replace these trash bags with Duffle bags.

This Christmas, we are committed to loving our city well. Join us…

 L E A R N  M O R E