God is indeed with us, and there is hope, but the sign of that promise doesn’t look like our normal conceptions of power. The sign God sends is of a different kind of power, one that is patient and enduring and willing to play the long-game. A mother will give birth to a child who will grow up and “learn to reject evil and choose good.”
Advent reminds us that his is the sort of “dawn” that comes to us in Jesus Christ. Like the sun, that light is life-giving, but it also uncovers injustice. It gives hope and offers the promise of a new future. A new beginning emerges so faintly that it’s almost undetectable… at first.
It’s so, so tempting to only see stumps. But the season of Advent takes us back to the hope that Christ brings, the light shining into the darkness of this world. And Christ’s is not a passive hope, but an active one that enlists us in its service as partners, as co-creators.
Was this the sort of wisdom Israel craved, and even prayed for, in a leader? Is this the wisdom we want in a teacher? Is this the way of life we choose as disciples?
It is nobody’s kingdom, but in the reign of Christ our identity, as God’s beloved, gives us power to be the people of God in a time and place where people are grappling for position and seeking power.
So this is my prayer today: that we, too, would hear God’s voice, even if it’s in a whisper. That we would remember that no, we are not perfect, but we are God’s people. We’re not sent out empty handed. We’re not alone in what we’re called to do. The God of Hosts goes with us!
But by virtue of our baptism, God’s mighty claim on our lives, each of us are compelled to be prophetic. We not think of ourselves as prophets in the typical sense of the term, but we can all speak and act prophetically. And that takes on so many forms for each of us, in any number of situations in which we find ourselves.
You can look at this as an organization with programs, events, and projects that need funding, which is true. We can look at this as a temple, of sorts, as King David did, a sacred space for locating the presence of the Holy, that needs funding, which is also true. But a deeper truth is: it’s a church. It belongs to God, who will always, is always, doing so much more with it than we can ever imagine. We simply have to offer our best in faith.
I’m not sure what you’d call Hannah’s type of prayer. Maybe a “paper plate,” everyday type of prayer. The kind when we don’t have it all together, or are even a little desperate. The time when we’re at our wits end. The times when we need the presence of the Holy One the most.
The hard truth is that we still see this kind of pain and lament caused by violence in our world today, almost 3000 years later. The hard truth is that US policy affects people in Latin America. The other truth we know is that our faith, this table of communion, calls us to solidarity, calls us to take risks for the sake of the Gospel.