Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days of ignorance when I didn’t know about all the problems of the world. My biggest problem was if I missed my Saturday morning cartoons. You feel me?
I don’t know about you, but I go through cycles of optimism and despair. I swell up with hope that The Church is reclaiming its voice when it comes to issues of justice, sexuality, and love. Then I deflate in times of stress when people around the country still don’t seem to get it. Hate groups centered around the church make bigger headlines more often than not. Communities enter into strife instead of banding together to stand on all we have in common. It seems like the flood of bad news never ends.
Can you relate to that cycle, or is it just me?
Isaiah addresses this cycle. He spoke to a nation in times when Israel was faithful to God and in times when the Jewish people oppressed its own in the name of imaginary gods. Want to see someone struggle with God about the cycle of hope and despair? Read Isaiah.
“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.”
When you rejoice at the amazing things God is doing, seriously rejoice. Make no bones about it. No one should question whether you are rejoicing! Conversely, when you mourn over what should be but isn’t, rejoice. Take joy in The Christ who has come to bring The Kingdom. Let people know that despair is not the ultimate winning team. Hope wins. Love wins.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” There wasn’t some secret formula that St. Paul found. His hope rested in God’s promise of the Kingdom. He decided to rejoice no matter what was happening. We need to take Paul’s cue, especially when we find ourselves in the cycle of despair. So many times during this time of year we hear about people ending their life or being shackled by despair. Share joy with those people. Swing by your neighbor’s place with some Christmas cookies.* Donate to Water.org. Speak up about one of the many problems the Kingdom of God is here to solve.
Advent is all about longing for what the promised Messiah ushers into this world. The Jewish people hoped for a day when the flood of despair would be overtaken by the flood of hope. Sit in this passage and experience a holy longing for Advent to blossom in our world the way God wants it.
“I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants.”