"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!"
What a perfect beginning for Advent. Look at what the world is like! If we can bear to look, if we are not too busy distracting ourselves from the noise and confusion and injustice and poverty and brokenness all around us, how can we not cry out, "Come to us, God, and make things right!"
Oh, but it is hard. There are so many things to do, to prepare for Christmas. Because that's what we do, we prepare for Christmas, the day, an event, a season that has so many moving parts (presents! decorations! parties! travel plans!). Even more so if we have children and community involvement. The Christmas concert! The play! The other concert! The Christmas gathering of the book club! We may decry the insane busy-ness but we aren't looking for God to come and clear our calendars.
And so we are distracted by many things and often willingly. Because we can hardly bear to look. It's the season of holly and berries and hopes for snow beside the season of political gridlock here at home, fears of global economic disaster brought on by the European debt crisis, and starvation in the Horn of Africa (among other places). The season of mugs of cider by the fire amid trips to the hospital or hospice or divorce lawyers or prison. It's easy to pick one side or the other, like Scrooge, and say, "Bah! Humbug!" to the rest.
And yet we are called to make room for all of it and especially to make room for hope. It is no wonder that Advent has to come around again and again, year after year. We have to make room for hope all over again, every year, in the wake of whatever fresh new disaster has come along in the midst of the intractable ones that never go away, like war and poverty and rage. Things we cannot fix ourselves. Things we just cannot make right.
And so we begin this Advent pleading once again with fervent urgency, "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down .... For we are all your people."