During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. As this is the first day of Advent, allow me to also wish you a Happy New Year (at least in terms of the church year).
I think it is fitting to begin Advent this year with lament. It is counter-cultural to begin the New Year with lament, but given what has happened over the past year, it is important to join our words to the laments of the prophets.
In Isaiah 64:1-9 we hear, “There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hands of our iniquity.”
This past year we have seen violence and racism renewed locally, nationally and internationally. From #pointergate in Minnesota to Ferguson, Missouri; to ISIS; to the host of violence and school shootings in local schools; and so much more. We have seen the fear spread about diseases like Ebola. Just taking these examples, it would be hard not to despair and lament with the writer, that “you have hidden your face from us.”
There is a reminder of hope in the midst of this lament though. Isaiah 64 continues with verses 8-9: “Yet, O lord, you are our Father; we are the clay; and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember your iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.”
If there is something to really lament about with the writer it’s this, we have forgotten the very fact that “we are all” God’s people, as he writes in verse 9. We have a shared identity with each other simply for existing and being created. Just as we trust and hope that God will not remember our iniquity and forgive us, we need to do the same for our neighbors and strangers. We need to forgive each other and be forgiven. We need to be awake (a very Advent theme) for what God is doing, but also to what our neighbors need.
This Advent as we journey, I have a hunch that my daily reflections will tend to focus on what it means to love our neighbor. With that in mind today I have two questions.
1) What do you lament in life and/or the world today?
2) Even with that lament, how do you (and will you this day on) love your neighbor as yourself, and how are you awake to and aware of their need?
Image Credit: First Candle of Advent Wreath is lit.