Sunday, November 28th ~ First Day of Advent
Hope in the Midst of Despair
Please read Jeremiah 33:14-16
When we look at the state of our world today, what comes to the forefront is the immense chaos, division, restlessness, injustices, war and a world that seems to bring out the worse of humankind on a daily basis. It appears to be a world living in a state of despair, lacking all hope for a better future.
In the past 20 months, we have lived the reality of a world turned upside down. We have witnessed and experienced extreme economic and racial disparities, disparities that have existed in our country for decades alongside a pandemic coming to fruition. How does one feel safe and hopeful at a time when the level of our anxieties, fear and brokenness is at an all-time high?
As we look for answers and solutions, comes the realization that we need to be more consciously aware of how our lives and livelihood are and can be tremendously impacted by the actions of others and the conditions under which we live as community. How we exist together as community in a sense of safety requires giving attention to the hazards and conditions leading to physical, psychological or material harm within the environment in which we live. It provides all with a sense of hope for the future and focuses our attention on the health and well-being of all of God's creation. It is essential to be responsive to the needs in everyday life by individuals and communities and to assist in the realization of their aspirations. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: "The Lord is our righteousness.” Jeremiah's words remind us of God at work in the world, even when we lose sight.
The text in Jerimiah 33 is part of what many identify as "The Book of Consolation”, with chapter 33 focusing on the hope that God brings in the midst of troubled times and unfaithfulness of the people. In the text, Jeremiah speaks not only of hope but also to the day there will be deliverance for Judah and safety for Jerusalem. And how will this come about? It will be brought about by the hand of God through a descendant of David who will execute the 'justice and righteousness' that had been expected of the kings all along. This is the hope fulfilled through God's love for God's people.
"The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” (Jer. 33:14-15)
So, if we can just hold on a little longer our safety net will come. Hold on and imagine God's love revealed. Love that we imagined when we chose to follow him. Love that we imagine when we fellowship and retreat with one another. Love revealed when the early church found ways to break down racial, political and economic barriers to form a true community. Love revealed when Mary gave birth to one who embodied God the father and brought neighbors, strangers, and those afar together.
Advent is not just about something in the future. It is as much about the reform of our present ways: the ways we govern ourselves, share wealth and responsibility, organize our communal life, and prepare ourselves for the future.
This season I pray you continue to imagine God's love revealed in the everyday things of life enabling each of us to play an active role in transforming the world as a witness of God's love.
Regional Moderator, Christian Church in Ohio