Dear Henri, Reflecting — Advent Week 1, Day 7

Isaiah 1

Psalm 40[a]

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

4 Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
5 Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
    but my ears you have opened[c]—
    burnt offerings and sin offerings[d] you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
    it is written about me in the scroll.[e]
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
    be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
    be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    you are my God, do not delay.

 

Dear Henri,

Many churches and families celebrate Advent using thematic words each week: hope, peace, love, faith, trust. Noble fruits to ruminate on, to be sure. But you and I began with doubt.

Doubt.

Elizabeth and Zechariah, eventual parents of John the Baptist and cousins of Jesus the Christ, are found to be faithful servants amidst their pain and doubt. Going about their daily practice life and worship, God shows up. When God shows up, Zechariah simply can't believe what's going on. God's unexpected revelation is counter-intuitive, counter-reasonable, counter-cultural. 

Okoro asks us readers: For what or whom are you waiting?

Tough question.

Well maybe not so tough; perhaps rather too invasive. 

The world would accuse answerees of:

"Make it happen yourself!"

"If it's meant to be, it will be. Don't force it."

"If you're waiting for something, you're missing out on everything."

"Grab life by the horns!"

"The first sign of a spiritual awakening is to be able to cease from forcing things to happen."

… and on and on it goes. Either we must create our lives as we wish them to be, or we must hand over our lives to "——–" (chance, fate, destiny, God) and accept whatever happens as pre-determined. 

Oh sure it's far too simple a paradigm to really reflect humanity, but pop culture has a funny way of grabbig our attention and planting it into simple camps. But for people dwelling in places of waiting, in places of darkness, in places of pain or grief, the questions are relentless.

There are days I'll see a pregnant woman walking down the street and I will nervously touch my abdomen. Will I even have a child?

Or I'll witness true marriage in all its guts, grit and glory and wonder: is this ever going to happen?

"When we begin to question God's activity or presence in our lives, our faith calls us to attend to the things God has entrusted to do whether or not our prayers are answered in the way we desire. The tension of unanswered prayer is real and often quite painfal." (Okoro, p.37).

Deeper still, I'm waiting for an angel. 

I want a Gabriel to show up and tell me the "what next". God and I can hash out the whys and what-nots, but a tangible declaration of my next steps on this journey would be jolly welcome. But I don't really think an angel is coming anytime soon.

I need God to show up — wings, light, glory and all.

Maybe I'm waiting not so much for family and home, but for divine expressions of my faith that I've committed my life to. In a world where white and black are reaching critical mass; where Christian and Christian come to blows against one another; where poverty morphs into more ravaged faces; where purpose seems dim, maybe… just maybe… I need an angel.

Sure, I probably won't believe it, Henri. My heritage of the Great Enlightenment — systems of logic that have us trained so well that we cannot accept the divine without criticism — refuses to let me accept such a drastic event. Then again, perhaps I'm so starved for spiritual depth that I'd latch on and never let go.

I guess looking back on the week I still can't say if I'm any deeper with God because of Advent. But I am grateful, Henri, for beginning this holy venture with doubt. It's like I've cleared the air for what's to come. All's come out in open… and that's okay.

Required even.

Until tomorrow, Henri,
Love,

Erin

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