I begin with a confession: I am not a one who waits patiently. Under the best of circumstances, my waiting hours are filled with excited anticipation and under the worst, anxious reflection. This Advent season feels more like the second kind of waiting. You know the kind – waiting for test results or that phone call. I know it isn’t supposed to, but that’s where I am this year. And the texts this week aren’t particularly helping bring in the hope and joy of the season.
You see, I serve a church in South Minneapolis, on the other side of the city where historic Black Lives Matter protests are happening. I hear Jeremiah’s words, “The days are surely coming…” and I want that justice and righteousness right now! Last night protesters were shot at the police station and the police told them to call 911 and later maced the distraught crowd. Where is the justice? Where is the righteousness?
More globally, of course, terrorism has once again polarized the world. People are indeed fainting in foreboding and fear of what has come upon the world. Where is the strength and courage to stand strong?
Traditionally, the first Sunday in Advent is the Sunday of Hope. It’s a tough sell with these texts. Ultimate hope is a bit easier to find than immediate hope. As discouraged, exhausted, and overwhelmed as I feel, I can’t shake the notion that hope is present underneath it all. In this season we anticipate the coming of the Light of Christ while standing in that same Light. In the northern hemisphere, we see and feel the darkness descending in a very literal way. It may be easy to forget the Light that cannot be extinguished by any darkness – real or spiritual.
It’s a hard sell, though. Folks want God to break into the world and put an end to our foolishness, our sin, our destruction and raise us up in a glorious, undeniable fashion. I’m not sure that anyone really wants to hear that hope is in our hands because that same God has already revealed to us the way of life and love. So all this nervous, anxious, anticipatory energy I have, I am going to put into action. I can pray along with Jeremiah that the days of righteousness and justice will arrive and I can heed Jesus’ call to be prepared for Christ to enter into the world again. I can also, to paraphrase Ghandi, be the hope I wish to see in the world. So I’m heading off to stand with Black Lives Matter. Today is really one of those days when I think God is the one waiting for us, waiting for us to respond to the Good News and truly embody the Love gifted to us in Christ.
So where are you this week? Have you chosen Hope as your theme or are you focusing on something else? What challenges does your community face that make it hard to hear promises of justice and righteousness that seem to have gone unfulfilled? Let us know where the Spirit is leading as you grapple with these texts that begin Advent with promises that have echoed down through the centuries.
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Photo by Erika Sanborne. Used by permission.