Sunday, November 30, 2008
Advent - A Season Of Hope
Jdimytai Damour, the Walmart maintenance worker who was trampled to death by a shopping mob was described by his friends as a gentle giant, who loved movies. Two men shot each other to death in a Toys 'R' Us store, Nearly 200 are dead and hundreds wounded in Mumbai, India, from bombings and shootings. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to take their toll in lives and maimings.
Here in the US, people lose their jobs, their homes, homeless numbers grow, food banks run low on supplies, family budgets stretch beyond the breaking point. Around the world adults and children go hungry and die from lack of food, die from treatable diseases, die from clashes of armed groups within their countries and invaders from outside. I could go on. There's much in the world to lament and cause us to be sad, even despondent.
And yet, and yet, the season of Advent is upon us - Advent, the time of waiting with expectant hope for the celebration of the birthday of the Babe in Bethlehem, the Christ child, who grew in wisdom and grace and changed the world and changed my world.
Advent is my favorite season of the church year. I love the readings in the Lectionary and the hymns which say, "Come! Prepare! Make way! Praise the Lord!" - the promises of blind eyes opened, prisoners set free, widows and orphans cared for, the brokenhearted and mourners comforted.
I am neither Pollyanna, playing the Glad Game, nor a cock-eyed optimist. If I lean in any direction, it's somewhat toward the depressed end of the personality spectrum, and yet the season of Advent fills me with hope. I have no explanation for my hope in these terrible times other than my faith in God, who calls us always to be children of hope.
The season is a special time to give attention to prayer and good works as a way of preparing for the celebration of the coming of the Prince of Peace. The call to prayer and good works is for all year round, but Advent is the perfect time to renew our dedication to continue the practices all through the year.
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
A voice says, ‘Cry out!’
And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever.
Thanks to MadPriest for the inspiration for this post.