“This Christmas, most of us will be left waiting for our miracle. So I’d like to take a minute to address, as a historian and as a cancer patient, what that means for hope.
Studying these “signs and wonders” theologies is my life’s work and I have two strong words of caution:
Let’s not ignore their call to hope. We hope that God will not abandon us. We hope that God draws near us, especially when we suffer. And each Christmas we place our hope in the baby Jesus, whose love changes us.
But let us never transform tragedies into tests. Suffering is not proof of a lack of faith. And we are not nearly as powerful as these theologies pretend we are. We are finite and fragile, held up by love. Not powered by our own belief.
The idea that we possess “the power of agreement” by declaring positive words out loud (or writing them in comment section) is not a special tool of prayer. It was popularized by prosperity preachers in the 1970s. It is a glib modern technique trying to make sense of the biblical injunction to “gather.”
I believe that God can heal. I have always gone to my beloved Pentecostals when I need prayer, especially for hard things. But we must also learn to accept our finitude and that the Kingdom of God is almost but not yet here.
This Christmas, let’s remember the God who comes as a baby. Power is nothing like we imagine. The miracle is not us and we might never receive ours. But we are surrounded by love, from God and each other. It is enough.” Kate Bowler on Facebook…
Nine lessons and carols…a rookie Anglican guide…then watch the service below…