Check me out, writing something that’s not for a seminary class.
I decorated the house for Christmas last week. A sign reading “all is bright” sits on the cabinet, just beneath the television. I can’t escape the words. All – everything. Bright – light.
That’s not Advent.
This year the darkness of Advent settles around me. Candles and tree lights pierce the gloom, pointing to the joy of Christmas day and the hope of Christ’s return. But just as I can’t escape the words on the sign, I can’t escape the tension of the season. Longing. Waiting. Wondering. For what, exactly, I think cannot be defined. Something – a peace, a fulfillment – that is just beyond the brush of our fingertips.
Humanness, aching for ultimate reconciliation with the Divine.
Words swirl together in my mind:
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eyes waste away because of grief;
they grow weak because of all my foes.
Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
– Psalm 6:2, 6-7; Matthew 26:38-39 (NRSV)
Are you tired? Do you find yourself thinking that you should (terrible, soul-sucking word) be feeling a certain way – joyful, energized, ready – but instead you feel drained?
Let that out, in the presence of God.
I can’t get the image of Jesus in the garden out of my mind. I understand that these verses speak in multiple ways. They record: Jesus wanted His friends to be with Him in His hour of need. They point: us needing to be watchful and waiting, eyes fixed on Heaven. But they also instruct, something I have not picked up on until today: Jesus calls us to stay awake not only to and with Him, but to and with each other.
So when we’re feeling tired, when we’re weary with moaning, when the darkness of Advent threatens to snuff out the candles and the Christmas lights, we don’t only need to express that emotion in the presence of God. We need to express that emotion to each other.
Be watchful, for how God moves in these days.
Be watchful, too, for shadows of grief on the faces you see each day.
The movement of God and the movement of the shadow come together in an opportunity for you and me and us together to love – really love – as we are meant to.