Posted by: riverchilde | December 13, 2015

I need a little Christmas NOW

I rely on the faithfulness of God to God’s promises–particularly those inherent in Christ Jesus. But this year, during Advent, based on what I’m seeing in the news, it’s been hard to hang onto that hope. As Nadia Bolz-Weber  recently said, “especially given how anxiety has been ratcheted up for all of us the last couple weeks – not knowing when a legally obtained semi-automatic assault rifle might be in the hands of someone in the doctor’s office or a workplace party or concert or movie theater or classroom.”

In the midst of this anxious time, I’m having a hard time hanging on to the belief in the promise that the birth of God in the flesh, Immanuel, Jesus the Messiah, has made or will make any difference in the world. Apparently I’m not the only one.
My day-to-day survival depends upon my hope in the promises of a reconciling God, one who–through Christ–promises that this world isn’t all there is, promises love and faithfulness to us creatures fromed by that God, promises to hold us securely now and forever, no matter what.

I cling to the biblical narratives that record the reliability of God’s promises made to and experienced by those who received them. I trust in the promises of a reconciling God who holds my son–lost too soon to suicide–closely and securely, whether my son and I ever meet again on the other side of the river.

I have a daughter living in a black South African township for a year, and I am constantly asked if I am afraid for her safety. When we made the decision for her to pursue this learning opportunity, I turned to my trust in the faithfulness of God’s promises, promises not that she would stay safe and alive, but promises that God would be present in the midst of everything that happens, redeeming everything that happens, making good on even the worst of our experiences.

So perhaps you can begin to understand my despair during this Advent season, watching the events of the world unfold, watching the world seemingly fall to pieces, watching our “Christian nation” demonstrating most un-Christ-like attitudes and behavior, and losing faith that God does, indeed, rescue us from sin for everlasting and/or abundant life in and through Christ.

As someone who has flirted with suicidal thoughts, my life literally depends on this continued belief in God’s faithfulness to God’s promises. And I’ve been struggling with that belief, given the state of the world. I’ve tried to embrace ideas like “everything has to fall to pieces before it can be put back in place (or grace).” But I’m still p.o.’ed at God. In this Advent season, things are getting worse, not better, and I feel betrayed.

I need to see improvement, and I need to see it now, before Christmas, in order for Advent to not lose its promise. I’m not a starry-eyed believer who thinks that the turn of the calendar page from Dec. 24 to Dec. 25 is going to usher in miraculous changes in the world. And although I know that Advent is a time of waiting, I need to see some tangible change that helps restore my faith in God’s work toward reconciliation in all the world, reconciliation to God and to each other.

That word, “reconciliation,” has begun to eat away at my anxiety. All my adult life, I’ve wrestled annually with the “true meaning of Christmas.” The concept of reconciliation has become the focus of my meditation this year. Reconciliation is both a process and a final accomplishment. Where can I demonstrate/foster/feed/point to reconciliation in my sphere of influence? Where can I begin to make real the promises of the Kingdom of God? Am I waiting for a Savior, or am I waiting for the finalization of a promise of a Kingdom, a Kingdom that has offered me a place not just as subject, but as actor making it manifest in the world?

 

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