Weeping. Waiting. Longing. Joy.
Advent is a time of waiting and longing. It is a time to be still and to listen. Today, as we stop to listen, we hear shouts of joy coming from the people of Israel as all that they had hoped for was fulfilled in the rebuilding of the temple. Shouts of joy as the dreams they held so dear, for so long, in the promise God made to their ancestors, came to fruition. But amidst the shouts of joy, we also hear mournful weeping. Tied up in the delight of a promise met was grief for all that they had known and all that once had been. Joyful shouting and mournful weeping intermingled so that one could not be separated from another.
Isn’t that a wonderful picture of what advent really is? As we find our stillness and wait, longing for the fulfillment of that same promise, if we listen closely, we can hear the mournful cries for all the loss, the fear, the loneliness, death and sorrow. But we can also hear the shouts of joy that are on the lips of the faithful as God’s promise comes near. The voices blend together in a chorus that accompanies us in the mid-winter nights of advent as we wait for the One who brings peace and joy, justice and mercy, and light into the world. Hope comes out of the darkness and light will shine.
Holy One, meet us in our advent waiting and longing. Give us the courage to leave space for weeping, for the pain and grief that comes with loss. Grant us boldness to join in shouts of joy at a promise fulfilled. Let us be the chorus of your beloved as we celebrate the fulfillment of expectation, of God coming into the world. Amen.
Rhonda Hlavinka is the pastor of Salem English Lutheran Church in Uptown Minneapolis.
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