A maskil[b] of Ethan the Ezrahite.
1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’”[c] -Psalm 89:1-4
It's now the end of Hannukah… Advent is almost over… and in mere hours Christmas will begin. Even in a time of darkness and waiting, I find great beauty in this overlap of celebrations of light. May all everywhere be blessed in their gatherings of faith, family, remembrance, community and love.
Finally… finally we come to Jesus.
For Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, John, Simeon, Anna and others of the Nativity, the waiting has been fulfilled. It's strange to our ears to be reminded that while the entrance of God into the world was/is an unfathomable thing, the Nativity characters had more than their shares of waiting, ordinary moments, recovering from delivering babies, drawing water, praying, worshipping, and generally carrying on with life.
As Okoro points out, all of these people remembered God and God's promises during the Waiting — whatever that waiting looked like. Pregnancy, muteness, the desert — God was and is in the waiting as God is in the Coming. I truly dislike the "Everything happens for a reason" maxim, as I find it trite and not quite honest about the plight of many people.
However, that God creates good in darkness is a promise; that God's timing is well beyond our comprehension is maddening, but true. Perhaps many things happen for many reasons. Perhaps not. However God works, Her people have continued to respond to Her through all of our waiting and want.
"When we speak of God's goodness, we reorient ourselves to the tenets of kingdom living. God creates; we worship and praise. God initiates; we respond in prayer and commitment. God promises; we wait and trust. God calls; we answer. God dwells in usand among us; we mirror God back to each other" (Okoro, p. 98).
Pastor Calvin preached honestly tonight at our Christmas Candlelight service that this year seemed darker to him the other years. I had to agree. We put together more Christmas food hampers this year than in our local food bank's history. A lot of stories; a lot of pain; a lot of anxiety about the future.
I haven't spoken much about hope or joy in these Advent writings. I wanted to be sure there was ample space for me to be honest about how I felt about the world, myself, and God. Jumping to peace and joy felt dishonest and false.
It hasn't instantly changed now that the clock is ticking down to midnight and the celebration of Christmas begins. But as I left the church tonight, I looked up at the lone street lamp and saw that a light snow had begun. On my way to the service, there was a crescent moon visible. Now… gentle soft snow.
Beautiful silence, echoing the waiting of every person who had attended our service. I took a deep breath in… and out… in… and out… and for a second I was sure that the lazy snowflakes were falling because God only wanted to remind me:
It's true: we all would wish for a magical god that smites evil and forces good. A powerless baby god makes no senses and hardly meets our expectations.
But a god who becomes us, walks with us, experiences us, experiences what we experience, feels what we feel, thinks what we think, needs what we need, and identifies with us… now that's a turn for the books that catches me every time.
I can't believe that all my hopes and dreams are going to come to pass. But perhaps, in the still small flakes of a gentle snow, I can believe that I am not alone.
And on Christmas Eve night, that is a tremendous comfort.
Until… next time… Henri,