It’s always an interesting time to be alive. Today I wandered into Church feeling the heaviness of a new Coronavirus variant, sick friends, more flooding in SW BC, economic stress, political division, increasing hostility, a lack of societal trust, and a general uncertainty about how we will cope with all of the above.
Under these conditions we sang the following words from an old hymn as a lone candle was lit in the midst of our collective anxiety:
Hope is a star that shines in the night,
leading us on till the morning is bright.
It is the first week of Advent, that time where the expectation for the anointed one to appear at Christmas begins to thicken. The first week is about hope… hope for the renewal and healing of all things.
I’ve been wondering about where in our lives we can meet this hope. I’m convinced that it’s found at the intersection of our deepest yearning and deepest disappointment.
I should explain….
I believe this intersection to be the coordinates of God’s unique presence in our lives. The geolocation of our salvation. It’s is a specific place that magnified the full intensity of our human experience. If we can bear to sit in the spot of our deepest yearning, while realizing that we will never fully be satisfied or whole while in human skin, we will find God. If we wait with the yearning and disappointment of it all we will come face to face with our truth and therefore come face to face with God.
Waiting is a big thing. We live in a world that doesn’t want to wait. We want relief from this personal anguish and we want it now. We find it in all sorts of ways. The bible calls these things idols. If we dare to sit in the middle of this intersection for some time, we will learn how we all, like addicts, are looking for a fix that will take the burden of life away. We race to get relief from our reality in all sorts of ways, but we will not realize true hope until we wait… right here… right now… at the place of our deepest longing and disappointment. The irony is that we do not need to travel to get to this intersection. it is here, right now. We just need to wait.
If we enter this intersection and resist every impulse to move away from the anguish that is sure to come, we will finally recognize that God is actually there with us offering healing balm for our empty souls. God is here now suffering with us and healing us.
I need to give a warning.
Everyone is in different places, if we by chance are not overwhelmed by the signs of the times above, just meditate on your own mortality for a moment. We all age and our bodies slowly or suddenly break down. We eventually die. Not one of us has the ability to avoid the earth that we will eventually return to.
But we can place our hope into the hands of the one that returned from the very earth that we spend our lives avoiding. Jesus conquered death and this victory extends to those who hope in him!
This is why we light a single candle in a dark world at the beginning of Advent. It is hope in the one who defeated the grave. It represents the promise of a story centuries old that prophets foretold… Of a child coming to reverse the systems of death and restore the external connection to the one that created us. The way things were meant to be.
The cross is an interesting symbol. There are two beams that intersect. The vertical can symbolize our yearning for heaven and the horizontal, the disappointment of our human experience. We can remember that Jesus embraced these coordinates with his incarnation. If we dare to enter this intersection in our own lives, we will surely find Him there waiting with our salvation in hand.