A Faint Glow

A Faint Glow by Anna Murdock
Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36 We don’t live on the same calendar as the world. Oh, is that news to you? We just don’t. Where others are rushing toward Christmas much faster than they should, counting down the days, hanging garlands and trimming trees and spending money like there is no tomorrow, you and I are called to an Advent waiting. We are called to a new beginning by our God of new beginnings. Our calendar marks time in the steps of our spiritual journey, not in 24-hour days. We are asked to hear the cries of the prophets in new ways and to listen to Jesus’ own words of “coming in a cloud of power and glory.” The promise of the LORD that is found in the words of both the prophet Jeremiah and in the words of Jesus is “Candle #1” of Advent. It is a faint glow in the darkness of a fallen and fearful world. This first Sunday of Advent brings with it Scriptures of promise and of days when the sun, the moon, the stars and the earth will be under the greatest of distress. False prophets (and the powers that be in Hollywood and the literary world) attempt to pinpoint the time and place where Jesus will come to us “in a cloud with power and great glory.” Put away your calculators and calendars, my friends. Jesus himself says that he does not know the “whens”. Why should we spend so much energy and money trying to know what Jesus does not know! This morning, I am hearing steady rains and I know that this day will be much the same as was a lot of my days last week. Dark days, cold steady rains, very heavy clouds. The news of the day adds to the bleakness. Death and destruction. Wars. Natural disasters. Children being dragged into very adult worlds. There have been moments when it seems that the world as we know it is crashing down upon itself. How dark it does seem at times. Allow the Advent Candle #1 to be lit. Allow this faint glow to pierce the darkness. Jeremiah shouts to us, reminding us that the LORD said that “a Branch will spring up, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land … and it shall be called ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ “ This is the faint glow of our first days of Advent. This promise. These words ask us to look into a baby’s face in a manger in Bethlehem in a new way. We might see a tiny face that is illuminated with justice and righteousness. Oh, this rain wants to lull me back to sleep! The darkness of the world begs me to pull the covers back over my head. But in the darkness, there is a faint glow of hope that will one day illuminate the skies. There are words of WAKE UP and WATCH … of BE ALERT and BE ON GUARD! God has promised a righteous Branch through Jeremiah’s words. Isaiah shouts, “Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Jesus says, “The Son of Man will come in the clouds with power and glory.” These are words of great hope, not fear. These are words that bring a flame to our first candle of Advent. And these are words that ask us to begin our Advent moving in and through our world as God has called us to do … not standing immobile, constantly staring at the star for signs, but going about the work of Jesus in this world of ours. Holy God, you have put promises of hope and truth on the lips of your prophets and of your Son. You have lit a candle in our darkness. It would be so easy for us to sleep through all that we see around us and wait alone, without purpose, for your Son’s return. But you have asked us to step out in the darkness, to be changed in our Advent waiting and to carry the Light of your love into the world. Prepare our hearts, O God, to recognize and receive this Branch of justice and righteousness and to tell of this Good News to a world that is in great need. Amen. (Comments to Anna at abmurdo@gmail.com.) Worship Team Leader Broad Street UMC Statesville, NC