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Advent, Day 6

I subscribe to a preaching journal and in this year's Advent issue, Amy McCullough, a Methodist preacher in Baltimore, had this to say about some of the stories we hear in Advent:

While department stores want us to believe we can buy our salvation, Isaiah, Zechariah, and Elizabeth learn the fulfillment of their hopes comes only as God's gift.  Each experienced the delicate balance of promises fulfilled and promises yet to be realized.  They are forced to live between anticipation and arrival, finding in the gap between what is hoped for and what comes a fertile ground upon which to grow their trust in God. The juxtaposition of hope and disappointment creates a sacred space.  Whenever the two meet, cherished longings come keenly into view. 

 What do you want for Christmas? A pastor might ask children this question during the children's sermon, knowing the risk of opening the floor to an avalanche of answers.  The children's responses might include Barbies, Xboxes, and IPods.  Other longings are not easily admitted.  I want Mommy and Daddy to live in the same house again. I want Grandpa to not have died.  I want more food in the refrigerator.  I want a friend to sit with at lunch.  Everyone carries such closely guarded, precious longings.  The longings themselves are holy, for they are part of the way God's abundant, hospitable, and light-filled kingdom takes root in us.  It is a holiness we cultivate by risking hope.  When Advent creates space for us to say how we have hoped and been disappointed and what longings we still hold dear, we discover the space growing within ourselves to welcome God's infinite gift of intimate presence.  

Those are powerful words to me.  The stories we hear in Advent remind us that being a person of faith is not always easy.  There are plenty of moments of pain, hurt, doubt and fear.  And yet, the promise of Advent is that God will always find a way in.  God will always meet us where we are.  In that, we put our trust.  In that, we hope.


Posted by Laurie Weicher at 7:00 AM
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