Sunday, November 29, 2020

Hope in the Age of Darkness: Gifts of the Incarnation

Mark 13:24-37

The pathway of darkness and the hope of incarnation. These are themes that merge for us in unique ways in 2020. As the year began, I wondered what new things would come to us as the new decade began to unfold. Little did we know that this year would bring illness and death to our nation and our world on the scale we have experienced. None of these things resemble that for which I had hoped!

As with the biblical witness, plague began to beget plague. The pandemic led to necessary shutdowns … which led to job losses and an economic downturn rivaling the crash of 1929 … which led to incredible social unrest … which uncovered the implicit racism that has lingered just beneath the surface for decades … which led to protests and marches for justice. And all these things folded into the general election in our country, which itself demonstrated the incredible chasm that divides us.

Darkness defines much of how we experience life as this Advent begins. Jesus gets it. Jesus experienced, in his own time in human history, what darkness was all about. It was about foreign domination. It was about the very real powerlessness that Jesus and his own people experienced under the hand of Rome. It was a time when few had hope of ever experiencing liberation.

Yet Jesus began to speak about the darkness in a new way. This darkness, he said, is what highlights the coming reign of God. This darkness becomes the backdrop against which the liberating power of God is made known.

Jesus cautions us not to look for this liberating hope in conventional power structures. If we keep looking for God to show up as a violent, valiant warrior, we will miss God. God is the one who walks as one of peaceful, non-violent resistance … one who will stand with us as we resist harm being done in our world … one who understands what solidarity is all about. The God we seek is the one who meets us in our fellowship and who comes fully alive in our love.

This is the one known as Emmanuel … God With Us!

Our calling in this Season of Advent is to “keep awake!” Take courage and look boldly into the darkness. There you will see, amidst the anxiety, the terror and the fear, the face of God made known in those who somehow understand that the pathway to hope leads through darkness. It is “God-With-Us” whose face we see!

God, in whom we live and move and have our being: Grant that this season of Advent may be, for us, a season of hope. May we stand with one another and be the symbol of the ultimate hope that you stand with us in our darkness. Amen.

2 thoughts on “Sunday, November 29, 2020

  1. Thanks for this beautiful message. A pastor once told us that “we are Easter people”. While that is true, I have always been comforted by Advent and the hope of Emmanuel. God’s love for us was surely shown on the Cross and on Easter Sunday but that journey started–just like ours–with a birth. God with us. He loved us so much that He became on of us, living with life’s struggles just like us. He ate with us. He walked with us. He wept with us. He suffered evil with us. What god would do that? Our God, our Emmanuel. He reinvigorates my hope every year.

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