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When Hope Feels Like a Cosmic Joke
It Appears to Be the Second First Sunday of Advent in a Pandemic
I was on my way to preach Hope the first Sunday of Advent when I heard that a new strain of the virus has appeared. Omicron, just in time for Christmas. I was prepared to preach the hope of the promise of Jesus and I was staring at the beginning of another variant. What the hell God? That was the nicest thing I prayed on my way to the pulpit. I was preaching Jeremiah 33:
14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
15 “‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it[a] will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
Last year I preached advent from my living room. This year I at least got to do it from church…for now. How am I supposed to preach about hope to the congregation who is praying for a dying mother, a sick father, the widows that are celebrating their first Christmas without their beloved husbands?
The people Jeremiah were talking to assumed his promises would be imminent. The branch the savior the ways of God were gonna be here very very soon. Instead Jesus shows up generations later, and isn’t even the hero they were looking for. When Jesus was resurrected he promised to return and everyone assumed that meant a couple months max. When the first generation of christians started dying everyone was like…this wasn’t part of the promise.
It seems if we are holding just a tiny piece of hope that God will make it right while the world dies around us, we are very traditional christians.
Waiting. It seems it is so much of life is waiting. Life seems to happen while we are waiting for the big things we think are life to happen. Advent reminds us of that waiting. Hope is the light on the edges that catches our eye. Don’t look straight on or you will miss it.
Last night I hosted beer and hymns at the bar, the bar that I was going to work at until my real ministry job came through. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was probably the best ministry event I have ever done. Whoever wants to come and sing. Buy a beer. Hang out by the fire.
I think that is what advent is asking us to do, to pay attention to the waiting, to believe there is life happening even while we wait.