Advent Devotional: Friday, December 5

Every so often, there are pictures or lists that make the rounds on social media that pine for “the good ol’ days.” Perhaps you know what I’m talking about: “When I was young we used to run around in the forest and ride our bikes, not play video games.” Or, “When the streetlights came on you knew you had about 10 minutes to get home for dinner.” Or, “When I was your age we slid on metal slides and jumped off of swings into pits of gravel.” And I think part of those sentiments is true; generally speaking, we didn’t worry about all that much just 15, 25, or 50 years ago.

These days, it seems there’s a new threat or warning every week. Allergies, religious intolerance, GMOs, vehicle recalls, stroller warnings, viral infections… The list is exhaustive and never-ending. We might think we’re better off locking ourselves inside our home and sealing off the world. In the poem below, Lutheran theologian Walter Brueggemann searches for some comforting meaning amidst these realities:

Salvation Oracles

There is a long list of threats around us:
            terror,
            cancer,
            falling markets,
            killing,
            others unlike us in all their variety,
            loneliness,
            shame,
            death––
            the list goes on and we know it well.
And in the midst of threat of every kind,
            you appear among us in your full power,
                        in your deep fidelity,
                        in your amazing compassion.
            You speak among us the one word that could matter:
                                    “Do not fear.”
And we, in our several fearfulnesses, are jarred by your utterance.
            On a good day, we know that your sovereign word is true.
            So give us good days by your rule,
                        free enough to rejoice,
                        open enough to change,
                        trusting enough to move out of new obedience,
                        grace enough to be forgiven and then to forgive.
We live by your word. Speak it to us through the night,
            that we may have many good days through your gift.

 

Questions for reflection: What gives you hope and peace when the days aren’t so good? Are there some spiritual or faith disciplines that you can practice to try and have more good days than not-so-good days? What will you do with your good days?

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