O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80:3-7)
We began the season of Advent yesterday; four Sundays used to prepare for celebrating the birth of the Christ-child. And while maybe it’s just me, I’m inclined to believe that in our accomplishment-driven Western culture, the idea of preparing includes knowing about a specific event at a particular time which is known to those making the preparations.
We need to remember that those who lived before Jesus’ birth did not know the time and day of His arrival; for those alive on that first Christmas Day it was more of a surprise party. So their Spiritual life was filled with waiting – and this theme of waiting is another way to prepare for Advent.
During Advent we want to put ourselves in that same mindset as those who lived before Jesus’ birth…knowing he would appear but not know when He would appear. In that space between the knowing and not-yet-known, while they whisper among themselves about their hopes in the coming of the Savior, they have their realities around them in “the bread of tears” and the “tears to drink in full measure.”
Their whispers of hope are being drowned out by the noise of reality.
While the realities of the violence in Ferguson Missouri certainly drowns out the whispers of hope that we might talk about the racial divide across our country, in our own community these whispers of hope were heard by the 237 employees of Woodgrain Millwork. They were hoping to be back at work following a roof collapse a couple of weeks ago. Instead, Advent came with the reality of a layoff notice. This is the 3rd largest employer in the county.
In the above Psalm there is no searching of the heart, no probing discussions seeking to unearth the reason that God might be withdrawn, nor is there any understanding of humanity being at-fault.
What we hear is simply the need for God when the whispers of our hope have been drowned out by the reality of circumstances.
So hope changes as we wait for God’s presence to be made known. Throughout Advent may we be extra-sensitive and very intentional about the waiting that is a part of our preparations for the surprise party that we know is coming.
Karl Barth is one of the ‘big thinkers’ when it comes to thinking about God and he writes: “There is no good reason we should forbid ourselves, or be forbidden, openness to the possibility that in the reality of God in man and Jesus Christ there is contained much more than we might expect…that in the truth of this reality there might be contained the superabundant promise of the final deliverance of all.”
May God’s whispers of hope become an uproar that shouts over the noise of the world’s reality.
Join us for the uproar Sundays at 10AM.
Together We Serve,Pastor Mike
p.s. Prineville Presbyterian is looking at how to help those laid off and we welcome your help to do this. Please call: 541-447-1017; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas or energies to share.