I don’t know about you, but this year has felt much like a season of weeping. There was the Orlando night club shooting and killing of innocent people. There was a contentious election that many are still mourning and are afraid for their lives and their children’s future. Even here in my own state, there are those on both sides of the issue of the Dakota Access Pipeline. There is Aleppo and the children whose cries are no longer heard. There is death, destruction, and violence all around us.
Matt Morris’s words from his post today that this Advent has felt more like Lent immediately resonated with me. During Lent, some people often go from Palm Sunday straight to Easter. They often forget about the other days in Holy week. They are quick to move from waving their palm branches to shouting “He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.” They forget to stop and have their feet washed or watch in agony as Jesus is crucified. For me, this Advent has felt more like we are stuck in the darkness of Good Friday as our dear Lord is hanging on the cross yelling out “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (But do we not know what we are doing? It seems to me that the world often knows exactly what it is doing)
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19 if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”–Revelation 22:18-19 (NRSV)
This Advent, I too have scrolled through my Facebook feed and simply cringed at the comments and the words hurled carelessly at one another. My heart has broken again and again at the violence, death, destruction and despair I have seen. My eyes have yearned to find the light and hope in the midst of the deep darkness. I have continued to weep endlessly with Rachel.
In the midst of this season, the words “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” come out of my mouth when others say it to me. But yet, my words feel empty…empty because we live in a broken fractured world. And this year, more than ever, that seems more evident than any other year. I yearn for the birth of this Child who God sent to be born in the stench and stealth of the manger and who God will send again to come down and rend the heavens.
Christmas is only a few days away and I am so anxiously and expectantly waiting for the birth of this child; this child who comes to change the world and change us. I am ready to move past the darkness of Good Friday to the joy of Easter morning and resurrection hope. I am ready to proclaim in the words of Clarence W. Hall that “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.”
Advent is a time for us to remember that life not death, joy not sorrow and light not darkness are born that holy night in the Bethlehem. In this holy one’s birth, we are reminded that “Weeping comes for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5).”
This year, there are definitely days I wanted to stay under the covers because I knew that the next morning would once again, more than likely, bring about evil, hatred, death and destruction. But now, as we move closer towards the manger and the birth of Emmanuel “God with us”, I am ready for the weeping to end and for the joy to come as “the weary world rejoices.” I am ready to fully trust that hope is born that one silent night as the Savior cries out into the world.
In the birth of Emmanuel God with us, we are reminded that God is with us in our joys. God is with us in our doubts. God is with us in our weeping and our dancing. God is with us when it seems all is lost. God is with us at all times and in all places. Emmanuel comes as the holy child; the king whose birth brings about a beautiful glorious sunrise for all the world to see; a reminder that there are seasons of weeping, but also seasons of great joy—“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her king.”
I am waiting and ready to receive the King. Will you wait with me?