Advent is here but are we ready? How are we, with all that is happening, thinking about Advent this year? Our theme is “The Weary World Rejoices,” and yes, that will require some faith. A great deal of faith! Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and sent to Tegel prison for about a year and a half. Sometime in 1943, Bonhoeffer wrote: “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes… and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” If Bonhoeffer can find Advent hope while imprisoned, we can find the faith to believe this year as well.
Our biblical text for the first Sunday of Advent is from the prophet Jeremiah.
“The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness” (Jer. 33:14-16, CEB).
“The time is coming… I will raise up a branch…in those days…the Lord is Our Righteousness.” This prophetic piece is soaked with hope. We all know that there is a temptation to doubt where there is an occasion for hope.
The world was a mess! They were living in their homes, in their country. But, still, it was a country occupied and controlled by a foreign military, foreign language, foreign currency, even foreign fashion! And the angel said to the young girl, “Do not be afraid, Mary!”
Don’t Be Afraid
Don’t be afraid? But her world is a mess, and her life is about to get really… complicated. Is your world a little complicated? A little messy? A little uncertain? A little fearful?
And the angel said to the young groom, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife.”
Don’t be afraid? Shouldn’t he be? His world is a mess, and his life is about to get really … complicated? Is your world uncertain, is your home, your home life, complicated? Shouldn’t he be afraid? Shouldn’t you be afraid? That’s going to require some faith.
It’s Advent, and God promised that things will be different. I’m ready for the kind of difference the appearance of Jesus always makes. Part of the challenge of this incredible hope is, of course, the source. God does it! Isn’t that what Jeremiah is declaring? God does it! Not you and me. Not a politician. Not a movement. Not a rebel. Not a rebellion. Not anger. Not wrath. God does it!
So, let’s take a deep breath, slow down, take a little time to listen, and see what God is already doing in our world, in your world. The door is opening from the outside. Can you see it?