Upon A Midnight

Many storekeepers decked their halls weeks ago to prepare the way for the holiday season. Congregational leaders have been working for weeks to craft worship scripts for Advent’s season of expectation that begins this year the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Over the next month in our worship, we will wait, anticipate, expect. We will recall ancient Israel’s mournful longing as we sing “O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” We will imagine Mary expecting the birth of her unexpected child.

During Advent, we wait. We wait in hope, perhaps, but we wait. That is what Advent is and has been for centuries—a season of waiting for Jesus to come.

But right now? All of creation groans in these pre-Advent days, wounded by violence and death in Paris, Beirut, and other places across the globe, and I am restless for good tidings in the midst of despair. I am restless for justice. I am restless for weary refugees to find a place to rest. I am restless for God to rip open the heavens and come down sooner rather than later. I am restless for Jesus to come early this year, because I fear that some people and places in our world cannot wait much longer for help and healing to arrive.

We here at the School of Divinity grieve with others the pain and suffering we know is present in our world this week. We have embodied in chapel services Rachel’s lament. We are learning to sing Mary’s magnificent revolution song with our bodies, minds, and hearts. We are wrestling in classrooms to connect what we believe with what is reported in the news. This our work here—learn together how to be bearers of justice, compassion, and reconciliation in our hurting world.

Hear these words as a prayer for all who face violence and suffering on this day and for all of us who seek to respond with God’s care and grace.  May God’s “fear not” be born anew—right now—in each of God’s Advent people, in us.

 

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by Jill Crainshaw
Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology
November 19, 2015