Advent begins not with fuzzy sheep and sleepy babies but with talk of destruction, of wars and rumors of wars; of nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom and brother against brother; of earthquakes and things that light up the sky. These are things that make us afraid, which is why we prefer the sheep and the babies, the gentle cows and kneeling shepherds, the beautiful star shimmering in an otherwise silent night. What are we to do with such dire predictions?
But one look at our world today tells us that indeed, these are not predictions nor rumors but reality. What we are seeing now is destruction and war, kingdom against kingdom and brother against brother. The earth shakes, and explosions flash.
On the streets of cities all over the globe, ambulances rush the casualties to hospitals and people leave flowers in doorways and on street corners, and other people cry out openly, their grief raw and exposed. Rachel is weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more, said the prophet Jeremiah. Rachel still weeps, in every country, every day.
Thus we begin Advent with these scenes of destruction, but if we can look deeply inside ourselves in the face of such fearsome scenes, we may discover an intense longing. Longing for peace. Longing for forgiveness. Longing to be made whole, to be released from fear. We are longing for love and connection in the face of hatred and brokenness. We are longing for the world to be transformed, and ourselves with it. This is our work now, to pay attention to this longing and to make room within ourselves for new life that God will bring even the rubble of brokenness.
So Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.