In many places, Advent is cold. It is the church season of beginnings and yet it is winter and dark – there is very little in the natural world pointing to burgeoning life – but it is there. Under the ground the seeds are waiting for the warmth of the sun to bring them to bloom again. The trees will again show their leaves. The days will be getting longer and warmer again. It may not feel like it will happen soon – but the promise of it is there.

And there is a promise for us as well. In the midst of the things in our lives that may feel like dead-ends, that may feel like they are lost, or that we are just too tired to think about – God reminds us:

Those things for which you long…there is yet time!
Those things you dream about…they are still possible!
Those prayers you have been praying…God still answers!

No matter how today finds us – whether tired or refreshed, peaceful or anxious, hopeful or hopeless – there is a message we needs to hear: The story of Advent is the story of Emmanuel – God with us – and God is always about beginnings. Always. Even in the darkest night. Even in a hospital room. Even in hospice. Because it was even so on the cross.

Published by Ruth E. Hetland

Ruth E. Hetland is the pastor of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church of Audubon, Minnesota. She is a mom, wife, skeptic, and Alt for Norge (Norwegian reality show) participant. She has served as a pastor in three other congregations prior to Saint Peter's: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Newstead in Akron, New York, First Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Our Savior's Lutheran Church at Norse of Clifton, Texas. She has been published in The Lutheran magazine, Christ in Our Home, the Word in Season, the Upper Room, Sundays and Seasons, and several other worship resources. Her most recent book is "Writing With a View of the Graveyard: Loss, Life, and Unruly Grace;" (2018). This devotional with photographs of rural churches is available in black and white on Amazon and in full-color by contacting Ruth at; Ruth's first book, a preaching resource, "The Power of Place and Story in Preaching," was published in 2012 and is available on Amazon. Ruth can be contacted at

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