On this Second Sunday in Advent...
Awaiting the arrival of the newborn babe, the promised one.
Awaiting with great hope and high expectations.
What will be born anew in me?
What will I hope for?
What will be the source of that hope?
Hope for the refrain of that great song: So this is Christmas - War is over.
Hope for Peace on Earth and good will to men, women, and children everywhere.
Hope for restored love and passion in loveless marriages.
Hope for restored relationships between parents and children.
Hope for food, for clothing, for shelter for that many billions
around the world who live without.
Hope for peace in my heart.
For good food and fun with loved ones.
For connection and reconnection with friends who live far away.
Hope for little Alvaro, born to my dear friend, Leticia, that his cleft palate will be healed.
Hope for Brett, who fell, broke a tooth, injured his neck, and must see a chiropractor.
For his mother who battles illness and pain.
Hope for Daniel who is serving over 20 years in prison.
Looking back on this year, I am joyful and thankful for the many blessings that have already come and for the hopes that been met and exceeded.
For deepening friendships here in my own home, at church, with neighbors, and with the many men and women I met and got to know a little through speaking engagements.
For the breakthroughs in therapy sessions with Jim.
For healing of my wounded spirit.
For the opportunity to spend time with Ale and Ana on Friday night over good food, warm spiced wine, and telling stories of life, love, and loss.
For music, art, books, and movies that have touched me and opened me to even greater growth and strength.
On this second Sunday of Advent, I am reminded of the beautiful songs of Christmas that we sing at church. The carols, the hymns, the choruses. I love to sing, especially at church. I love to listen to the choir, the soloists, and the instrumentalists as they raise both song and note in praise.
All around me in the sanctuary, there are voices raised in adoration and worship, but those are off key, out of synch, hands clap on the wrong beat, and never seem to catch up. I used to get really upset by those dissonant sounds. But lately, I have been moved to smile. There is no perfect choir. There are no perfect performers or performances. Mine included.
The television, magazines, movies, radio, videos, they all seem to advertise perfect bodies in perfect outfits at perfectly orchestrated ceremonies. But there really is no such thing.
We all sing off key. We all dance a little clumsily through this life. In fact, we trip over our own feet and often land with a thud on our ample bottoms. Our outfits don't fit perfectly nor do they meet the high standards of Fashion we are being taught to revere. Unfortunately, many of us get so caught up in trying to hide our missteps that we fail to notice how many others are out of step right along with us. We are so busy trying to camouflage our flabby places and cover our scarred places that we miss countless opportunities to reach up and touch the faces, the hands, and the hearts of our scarred and flabby friends. In fact, if we looked up, if we listened, if we paid close attention, we would see and hear and realize that we are surrounded by beautiful people, loving people, and people who want nothing more than to be noticed, to be loved, to be touched.
Are they needy? Might they ask us for help, for money, or for assistance?
Are they lonely? Do they have sad, desperately painful stories to tell?
You bet they do.
But so do we all.
On this second Sunday of Advent, as we prepare for the celebration of the coming of the baby that changed all of human history, let us lay down our masks for a moment or two. Let us lay aside our weapons for a day or two. Let us cease from our infernal and internal conflict for a week or two. Let us leave the unanswerable questions unanswered for a while, and rest our weary minds.
Instead let's dance together.
Let's laugh together.
Let's tell stories of love and life and laughter.
Let's go on adventures with friends.
Let's write to one another, encouraging one another.
Let's forgive one another as we so desperately long to be forgiven.
Let's break bread together.
Let's drink tea together.
Let's hold hands.
Let's celebrate this day, this moment, this life.