category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 13

Friday, December 11

Habakkuk 3:2-6; Philippians 3:12-16

Growing up, my church did not celebrate Advent. When I was young, our celebrations included rehearsals, Christmas plays, concerts, and brown bags of fruit, nuts, and hard candy. I remember the anxiety of forgetting my lines, fear of embarrassment, and thoughts of people laughing at me. During Advent ceremonies, I often feel this anxiety again. Watching my church light Advent candles each week, I am waiting for them to fall and burn the church down. The prophet Habakkuk lived in a society in which he felt the burden and affliction of his people as they experienced a myriad of trials and injustices. Despite violence and strife, Habakkuk chose to see the awesomeness of God. He chose to rediscover the wonder of who God is in the midst of his situation.

The year 2020 has been quite the adventure. As a nation, we have grieved. COVID–19 brought infirmity, sickness, and death. Our lives have changed. The way we work, worship, travel, and relate to others has changed. It forced us to bring life back into balance. COVID–19 brought us to a place of silence, solitude, and prayer. With civil unrest, increased protesting and brutality, many have a greater awareness of the ugliest truths and depths of what some call “America’s Original Sin,” racism. We hear the cries of black and brown mothers for the lives of their children; we have seen sons dying in the street with their last breath calling out to their mothers; our hearts have been broken, and we weep. We weep over not only the lives lost, but also over the realization that not all lives are honored as Imago Dei.

How do we bring reconciliation, healing, and redemptive love into this moment? We wait. Waiting is not something that we do passively. We wait in hope, believing that there will be a dismantling of patriarchy, white supremacy, and systemic racism as we seek justice, love, and mercy. We wait in peace knowing that God is God of the privileged and God of the oppressed. God has heard the prayers of our ancestors and surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses to cheer us on in this journey while reminding us that God is with us, God is for us, and God will see us through. We wait in love. Who can know the depth of our capacity to love but God? God is love. Healing begins when we understand that my neighbor is the expressed love of God no matter who they are or what they have done. We wait in joy. We rejoice in anticipation of the triumphant return of our King. Of His Kingdom, there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7; KJV). Jesus is the repairer of the breach, restorer of the broken, and the One who makes all things new. Until he comes, we must continue to press toward the mark of our individual and collective high calling of God in Christ (Philippians 3:14; NIV). Make a choice this Advent season to wait on God and behold the beauty of God. “His brilliant splendor fills the heavens and the earth is filled with His praise” (Habakkuk 3:3b; NLT).

Natasha Shackelford
School of Divinity Student

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Advent Reflection: Day 12

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