Waiting in Hope

We are in the fourth week of Advent already and inches away from Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation, and often I find myself too exhausted to think about Christmas. This season is no different.

The physical depletion left me the moment finals week ended. Now, I have entered into the emotional exhaustion.

For months I have thought of themes I wanted to explore. Typically during Advent, there is time to reflect on Mary’s silent ‘yes’ or the depth of Joseph’s character. The events of this year paved the way to reflect on the ever-evolving “ecclesiology of Pope Francis” and his critical example for pastoral ministry.  There were opportunities to reflect on the Year of Mercy and how might we push forward with mercy beyond this year.  This year, to say the least provided a myriad of possibilities for critical reflection.

With as many opportunities I had to personally reflect, I found myself in mourning for the world.  My heart aches each time I read another headline. When I think of it, perhaps reading the headlines is an Advent prayer.

We sit in lonely exile waiting in expectancy for the Rod of Jesse to spring forth again and relieve from our self-destruction.  We shout from the depths, “Lord, hear our prayer.”

“Where is God?” We cry out in sorrow as children die in the streets of Aleppo.

“Where is God?” We ask when our water is poisoned in Flint and Standing Rock.

“Where is God?” We ponder as we bury our unarmed black sons from Chicago to Ferguson.

In a soft whisper, we hear God say, “Be still and know that I am God.”   If we turn to the cross, we can see a God who suffers with us, understands our pain, and mourns when we mourn.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Advent reveals to us that in the darkest moments of our earthly existence, Christ, through the Paschal mystery, is the light shown for all.   We light the Advent wreath to remind us that the flickering of one small flame can pierce even the most impenetrable darkness.

As we sit in darkness waiting for Immanuel to come again, we can rest at the foot of the cross. There is at the foot of the cross, but there is faith, hope, and love residing there too.

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