December 6, 2017
I don't usually write during Advent as December begins my time of annual vacation. But my spirit kept nudging me and so I write. This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. The season of waiting and expectation. It is the time where we are supposed to reflect on the first coming of Christ and look forward to the second. At my church and perhaps at yours, we recited the litany and lit the first candle: the candle of HOPE. I wanted to be there, excited..expectant..hopeful...full of anticipation but I wasn't quite there.
CONFESSION: I'm tired of waiting and hope deferred makes the heart sick. In reality, I've been stuck. Stuck right around November 2016, living in a constant state of dissonance perpetuated by every tweet, every regressive policy, every asinine press conference and every alternative fact that has taken place daily since then. Hope has been marred by shock and disbelief that what I never thought would happen, happened and at how fast and how far we have fallen.
And yet while I wasn't looking, Hope found me in the most unexpected place. It wasn't found in the visitation of the angel. It wasn't in the Song of Mary nor in the leaping baby of her cousin Elizabeth. Hope found me in the socio-political context of his birth. Jesus was born into a climate very similar to ours. He was born to a people and family who lived under Roman occupation; burdened by excess taxation that benefitted the wealthy; governed by a religious aristocracy who had traded the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the political agenda of Caesar Augustus. Literally, he came into a society for which there was "no room" for him. Meanwhile God was said to have been silent for some 400 years prior. It appeared as if all anyone could do was imitate Simeon in the gospel of Luke, who spent his time fasting, praying and "waiting for the consolation of Israel".
But then I realized it was into the midst of this burdensome, oppressive, dark, silent situation that God came. Unassuming and without need for anyone to make room, Jesus came. While they were waiting, God was working. God did again as God had done in the beginning. Without permission or invitation, God stepped into the middle of that which was dark, void and chaotic! It helps me hope to know that God doesn't need perfect conditions, optimal surroundings or human permission to move and act on the world's behalf. And neither do we. We are living in times where the message has been made clear, that for some of us - there is no room. Perhaps there never was and these days are just reminders of that forgotten truth. But the first coming of Christ serves as a reminder that despite man's agenda, God's Kingdom can and will prevail without human permission or invitation. It is a challenge to us, to avail ourselves believing that God can bless us and use us in spite of our own oppressive, dark, burdensome and silent situations. It is a reminder that in these times, Jesus is STILL Emmanuel, God with us!
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name. I wasn't quite there Sunday but today, I'm on my way. Context is everything! It's a journey...and I'm on it...Join me!
Until next Wednesday, may these words Help You to Hope: Lamentations 3:21-23; Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; Proverbs 23:18; Romans 8:24-25.
Blessings to you!
Rev. Dr. Jacqueline A. Thompson