Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve, 2015: Glad Tidings and Old News

Good evening, and welcome; I’m happy to welcome you here tonight. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, Christian or Jewish or something else, no matter what your belief or unbelief, whether you worship Christ or simply admire him, we are glad that you came here tonight.

I want to thank our musicians and singers and readers ahead of time. I want especially to welcome my colleague Rabbi Marc Katz for coming from Congregation Beth Elohim to read the second lesson and sing the Akeda. This is part of our tradition now, and may it speak volumes that we do this mutual embrace. Let me also acknowledge our music director Aleeza Meir, our kapellmeisterin, who turns us ordinary people into singing angels.

I’m sorry that you don’t get your own candle, but it’s for your safety, considering the staircases and the narrow exits. You’ll get your own candle again when we return this service to our sanctuary. Later in the service it will get darker in here. I’m instructing you to not turn on your cell-phone lights. Please just enjoy the candlelight. If you can’t make out all the lyrics in the bulletin, then just sing what you can from memory. Most of the words will come to you. So would you kindly turn off all your mobile devices right now and keep them off?

The image that I’m compelled by tonight is of a young woman desperately trying to find a place to have her baby in the darkness. A safe place, halfway decent. With her husband, in a strange town. We sing, “all is calm, all is bright,” but I wonder how frantic they might have been. Where were they when her water broke? Was she having contractions while Joseph was pleading with the innkeeper?

There is a subtext in this lovely story of the stable and the manger. Her husband had to be her midwife in the dark. Not her sisters, nor her cousins, nor her aunties. Why had they all let her go? And to come to this! It’s actually not a pretty picture, to give birth among the animals. Maybe the darkness was welcome.

It’s old news, but the relevance is obvious. If you are a refugee on the run, where do you go to have your baby? If you’re fleeing from Syria and crossing into Turkey, what do you do if your contractions start? Or if it’s while you’re waiting for the flimsy boat to take you into Greece? Do you head out into the fields and hide in a barn? How about if you’re trying to cross the border from Mexico into the US? Maybe you have your baby in the back of a truck, and God forbid you might need a doctor because then you’re also going to get arrested and sent back. No room for you here. But it’s here that God was to be found, so says the primal story of the Christian faith.

In a way it’s all old news. People have been fleeing from one disaster or another for all of human history. And wealthy nations have been refusing them for just as long, erecting fences and fortresses. Don’t disturb us, go away. And our temples inside our fortresses. The very first Dutch Reformed church in North America was built inside the fort at the tip of Manhattan, and because it was in the fort, certain people were not welcome there. But the Christmas story tells you that at this most critical moment of the Incarnation, your God is found outside the welcome and out beyond the light and at the margins of secure society.

And then out there in the dark, beyond the walls, the angel goes to tell the tidings to shepherds. Why not to the innkeeper? Why did the angels not perform their concert to the travelers gathered in the great room of the inn? Why lavish this most glorious music on the very lowest class of men? Another example of God among the marginalized.

It’s old news that we need to hear again and again. In a single stroke God both embraces our humanity and repudiates our human pretensions. God is pleased to inhabit our weakest and most vulnerable humanity, fully so and without interruption or impediment, which is the meaning of the Incarnation, but simultaneously repudiates our human power and the walls we build and the violence we use to secure our power. You need to keep hearing this old news against all the other newer news that you hear today, the news that pretends to be the truth about the world.

This old news is good news because this repudiation has no ill will. Tonight there is no guilt nor condemnation. From God’s side it is only peace on earth, and all good will towards humankind. This old news is offered to you as tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, even for those behind their walls. Oh yes, these tidings might well embarrass us, and shake up our contrivances for our comfort and security, but that’s a gift that every one of you can welcome.

When you hear it you are glad. You recognize that it’s better this way. In your heart, you know God’s right. Of course you may well doubt there is a God, and I don’t blame you, because the jury is still out, but is this the kind of God you could believe in? Who acts like this, who talks like this, who offers to be found among the outcast and the poor, a God whose greatness is willingly made very small and whose power is among the weak?

The lessons that follow tell you where to look for God and what kind of God to look for. As for peace on earth, let the lessons remind you of what God stands for and where God goes, with gracious hospitality and good will. For joy, let the music and the carols carry you. And for comfort, take it from the company of your fellow travelers around you. For comfort and joy, for peace and for God, you were right to come here tonight. God bless you one and all.

Copyright © 2015 by Daniel Meeter, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December 20, Advent 4, The Songs of Advent #3: The Song of Mary

Micah 5:2-5a, Song of Mary, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-55

Our gospel story today is called The Visitation. It follows on the story of The Annunciation. That’s when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive the Messiah in her womb. She replied, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and then added the news that her elderly cousin Elizabeth–she who had been barren–was sixth months pregnant. And that extra news is what sets up our story for today, The Visitation.

Mary races to visit Elizabeth. You can imagine why she wants to. She needs some confirmation. She’s a young woman of faith and even daring, but of course she still needs some confirmation. And you can imagine what will happen to her reputation: pregnant and unmarried. A sinner, a slut, or just a victim, but traditional cultures blame the victims in such cases. I’m guessing that Mary could sense from the start what she would be against to carry this child, so she races to visit Elizabeth.

Elizabeth will be showing at six months, while Mary is just a week or two pregnant. But she does not have to show for Elizabeth to know, because of her own baby who leaps inside her. He will be John the Baptist. He’s a prophet already—a messenger, a herald, an announcer. The Holy Spirit makes his mother prophetic too, in what she says to Mary. Prophecy is as often about the present as the future, when you can tell out what is unseen in front of you. Both of these women speak prophetically. Their two sons take after their mothers.

I love the emphasis on women in Luke’s gospel. Elizabeth gets to speak while her husband Zechariah has been silenced from his lack of faith. Let me remind you. He will get to speak again when his boy is born, and he will sing his song, the Benedictus, but that won’t happen till three months after this Visitation, so his wife here is ahead of him. And so the old priest’s song is not the first of the four songs in the Gospel of Luke. That honor goes to Mary, with her Magnificat.

In Latin: Magnificat anima mea dominum. In Greek: Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν κύριον. Literally, “Magnifies my soul the Lord.” The Greek original and the Latin translation are both terse and compact, but the modern English translations tend to be wordy and diffuse, and they underplay the femininity and the sexuality. In the last line, she doesn’t say “descendants.” What she says is “seed,” as in “σπερμα,” and if you can’t figure that out I’m not going to tell you. She’s singing about her body no less than about her soul. She is singing about her womanhood. She is young and pregnant, and she’s got some God inside her uterus.

The song is feminine, but it’s for all of us. Because in Greek, your soul is feminine, no matter your sex or gender or orientation. It’s for all of you, especially at prayer. You can repeat this Song of Mary everyday, if you follow the church’s traditions of prayer, especially at Evening Prayer. I repeat it every day. The Magnificat is part of my prayer life every day. It never gets boring, I always look forward to repeating it, for it to change my mind from me to her, and to give her voice to my soul. My soul gets to speak like this young woman every day, this pregnant young woman.

She magnifies God. That’s daring talk for a girl. She acknowledges that God’s done great by her, and she magnifies God right back. As if a human being could increase God’s greatness. Who does she think she is! That’s the wonderful thing about this canticle, compared to say, the Benedictus, it’s as much about herself as it is about God. She gets empowered by her obedience to God.

She says, “All generations will bless me.” Yes, we will, because of what God has done in her, but isn’t it presumptuous of her to claim it? Maybe in certain religions and for certain Biblical authors, but not for Luke. She needs to claim her own experience as a demonstration of all the rest that she’s singing of. God casting down and raising up. God filling and emptying. And when God gets done with all of this, especially with her, then God is even greater than God was before, if not philosophically, then at least historically. God is great in her, she is the Blessed Virgin Mary, essential to our Faith.

The very last line of the canticle has a spring in it, something paradoxical. She says that God has remembered the promise God made to Abraham, “to Abraham and his seed forever.” But there was no seed of Abraham in her. She conceived the child as a virgin. And the mystery of the virgin birth was even more impossible back then than it is for us, for they believed that the whole life of the fetus was in the seed that came from the man, and the woman’s part was merely to be a fertile garden.

She has no seed inside her, so the seed of Abraham that she mentions is herself. She, and not some man, is the inheritor and carrier of God’s promises. This was daring and presumptuous. Who does she think she is! So greatly does she conceive herself. And this is for you too. When you repeat her words and you praise God in her voice, you are claiming a greatness and a status that is daring. You are great, because of God in you.

Your greatness is not in the conventional categories of the world, for in the eyes of the world you may remain a nobody, and even a scandal, like an unwed mother or a child who is illegitimate. But you are great in your own personal portion of obedience, and great in your embrace of what God is doing among the lowly and the hungry.

This is a revolutionary song. “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones.” Well, that word thrones was famously changed to seats in the official King James Version of the Bible, by order of the British Crown. It’s a revolutionary song.

Yes, there is some Cinderella in it, the lowly handmaiden made the consort of the king. There is in it some “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story, a girl exulting in herself even in the midst of looming tragedy. But it isn’t Katy Perry singing “Hear Me Roar,” or a woman warrior like Katniss Everdeen. It’s more like Rosa Parks on the bus, or like first-grader Ruby Bridges walking into that school every day by the power of her prayer.

Mary has no weapons, she does no violence, even for the cause of good. She’s pregnant, and all the drive within her is for life, for the preservation of life and the protection of life. She works no vengeance, and she is full of grace. Her only weapon is her little infant needing love. This revolution is of grace and love.

I love the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her devotion to do God’s will cost her greatly but it means no declension or diminution of herself. She is our model. We are made greater when we make God great. How much God asks of you. And yet how much you get back from giving what God asks of you.

And Mary was a model for her son as well. She who gave him birth also taught him his religion and his identity. And what she taught him was what she herself had done, for he must do that too. When he offers himself, when he says, “See, I have come to do your will,” what is he doing but repeating what his mother had done? Mary must have taught him that his revolution must be one of love.

We come back to Elizabeth. It’s thanks to her, I think, that Mary can say these things. It’s thanks to her affirmation and confirmation and her confidence that Mary can open up and sing her song. Mary has a secret, and must have her doubts and second thoughts. She knows her own experience but who would believe her? Elizabeth does. So what we have in this story of two women with their two unborn babies in their wombs is the first four members of the Community of Jesus.

You in this Community of Jesus do for each other what Elizabeth did for Mary. You encourage each other, you believe in each other, even when you have your secrets. You relate to each other prophetically. "I can see the presence of God in you. It will cost you, yes, within the world, but it will not cost you me. If you come to me in need, I will bless you and bless whatever is inside of you, so that you can stand up and sing your song and make God great."

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has regarded his handmaiden’s lowliness. And look, from now on all generations will bless me. For the mighty one has done great by me, and holy is his name. His mercy is on them who fear him in every generation. He’s shown strength with his arm, and scattered the proud in their designs. He’s cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He’s filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He came to help his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever.

Copyright © 2015, by Daniel James Meeter, all rights reserved.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

December 13, Advent 3, The Songs of Advent 2, A Song of Joy

Zephanaiah 3:14-20, First Song of Isaiah, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18

I spent the better part of Monday as a guest of the Police Department. So did 900 other clergy from all denominations and religions. We were assembled at 1 Police Plaza in Manhattan and we heard speeches from Commissioner Bratton and from deputy commissioners and chiefs and deputy chiefs and Mayor DeBlasio we saw videos on various topics. The two main themes were how clergy could help the cops improve their relationship with the community, and how to deal with local acts of terrorism, as they kept saying, “God forbid it should happen to you.”

I learned a lot. I know the definitions of “soft target” and “active shooter.” I learned the stages of police response to an active shooter. I learned the three-point strategy of “run, hide, fight.” Did you know that Old First is a soft target which would attract an active shooter? The precinct wants to schedule a security assessment of Old First. Did you know that Congregation Beth Elohim regularly employs security guards and that we even had extra cops on hand for the Jingle Bell Jamboree?

Terrorism. Terrorists. Terror has become a thing, a cultural and political phenomenon. Donald Trump says, “Nobody knows what’s going on.” So it’s not like the fear of what you can see, like when it was Communism that we feared, which we could see, but the fear of the unknowable that is among us, hiding in plain sight, that you cannot guard against, that you can’t prevent, and certainly not reason with. And when you have terror, you have a negative condition for joy.

The Third Sunday of Advent is the Joy Sunday, so I’ve been thinking about the obstacles to joy. What prevents your joy. Terror. Misery. Depression. Grief. Worry. Rage. Resentment. Lust. Greed. Arrogance. Pride. Achievement. Great success, perhaps. Joy is not the same as pleasure, and it goes beyond happiness and feeling good. You can have pain and still have joy. One of my nieces has a debilitating illness and she’s a hero of mine because of how joyful she remains. I think you can know sorrow in your life and still have joy.

I don’t think anger is the opposite of joy. More the repression of anger, anger hidden and held. There’s open anger in the words of the prophets like John the Baptist. You’ve got to let your anger out, and feel it. But don’t let its pleasure seduce you, for if you enjoy your anger you won’t have joy.

Joy is hard to define. It’s one of those things that you know it when you feel it. Not all joy is the same. It has its textures and flavors. Joy can be sudden and unexpected, but also constant and calm. One of the experts on joy is C. S. Lewis. In his book The Great Divorce he wrote of joy as the constant state of eternal life, and that to live within it you have to surrender both your ego and your substitute satisfactions.

He also wrote that you can be Surprised by Joy. In either case, joy is something objectively outside of you. You can have it in you but yet you can never possess it as your own. You can only keep receiving it. And that’s because, according to C. S. Lewis, joy belongs to God. You can receive it but you can’t achieve it.

And yet St. Paul instructs us to rejoice. Again, I say, rejoice. Well, how can you just decide to start being joyful? You can’t. You can’t get at joy directly. If you aim for it, you will not get it. But at the same time, if you’re a Christian and you’re not joyful, then you have a problem. And you need to examine yourself for what is keeping you from joy. What are your obstacles to joy?

The paradoxical insight of the gospel is that repentance is the way to joy. That’s why we get John the Baptist on this Third Sunday of Advent, because his exhortation to repentance is the “good news of salvation!” 

Repentance is the way to joy, repentance as both negative and positive. As negative in your self-examination and acknowledgment of your sins. As positive in real actions, as bearing fruits worthy of repentance, like sharing your second coat with someone who has none, and like tax collectors taking only the cash they are due, and soldiers not using their power for gain.

Your obstacles to joy are probably your substitutes for joy. Cheaper pleasures. Pain avoidances. Mental medicines. Indulgences. Repentance is how you clear away your substitutes for joy. But repentance is not like physical exercise to make you better on your own. Repentance opens you to the joy that comes from beyond you. No matter how righteous you become, you cannot generate your own joy. The most important repentance is not your purging but your receiving.

What I’m asking you to believe today is that joy comes with God. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” That’s the message of the prophet Zephaniah. It is God who comes rejoicing over you. I am inviting you to believe that the God you want is a joyful God, and that your own joy comes from sharing the joy of God. But so much gets in the way. It’s not just your obstacles and substitutes that you repent of. It’s also real doubt, real distraction, real questions, real grief, real hunger, the silence of God when a declaration is needed, the silence of God when evil is racking up the points.

What I do is set myself a discipline. You know that discipline is not an obstacle to joy. Let me tell you my discipline. I repeat the canticle, every morning.

Last Sunday I was inaccurate. I told you that every morning I recite the canticle of Zechariah. Actually not so. I mix it up. On weekday mornings in the summer, instead of the song of Zechariah, I recite this first song of Isaiah. At sunrise, down by the lake, on my little wooden prayer deck. It puts me in a different place, a sanctuary of the open air.

I do it kind of sing-song.

“Surely it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be my savior. Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation, and on that day you will say, Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name. Make his deeds known among the nations, see that they remember that his name is exalted. Sing the praises of the Lord for he has done great things, and this is known in all the world. Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Can I tell you that repeating this is my cognitive behavioral therapy? It forms me. It forms me from outside me. It affects my mind and how I live the day. It changes my mind and converts my soul again each day.

You know I disagree with many Protestants that the best words to pray are your own words. Yes, I do pray my own words too every morning, but most of my prayers are in the words that I receive instead of generate myself, and I receive them by reciting them. It’s a kind of listening while speaking. I find this to be a relief and a lifting of the burden of myself. It is a gift that does not depend on me. That in itself is the pattern of joy. So in the pattern of joy I pray this song of joy. You can do this. If you’re having trouble being joyful, then try this discipline.

Your joy is all about God, and that God is your stronghold and defense. It is God’s water that you draw. It’s God’s deeds that you praise, and God’s name you exalt. It’s because God is great in you that your joy rings out. So the strategy of joy is your objective praise. You repeat it and you begin to know it, you repeat and you begin to discover it, you repeat it and you begin to see it, you repeat it and you begin to feel it. Honest, that is how it works. It’s not just a reminder, it’s a retrieval.

I know you want joy to be spontaneous, to be surprised by it. Like when you get good news. But you can discipline your mind and soul to hear the news you were deaf to and to notice the spontaneity that was always all around you. The news that the Holy One of Israel is great in your midst.

It’s paradoxical. The Holy One of Israel was great in her midst by getting very small. A fetus in her body. An infant in her arms. A little child, listening to his parents to learn how to speak and how to think and how to pray. You keep hearing that as news, a distant story of what God did once, far off, once for all. But that news tells you what God is like and what to look for of God’s presence, and what your joy might feel like.

And that news helps you discern the presence of God all around you and in the stories of the people that you know. You rejoice in each other. You rejoice in what each other tells. Your broken and halting voices come together to make a song. This joy is something you can learn. Learn it. Listen to it. Desire it. Sing it or say it but keep repeating it. And the joy within it gets born in you and reveals itself to you. And you recognize the wonders of his love.

Copyright © 2015, by Daniel James Meeter, all rights reserved.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

December 6, Advent 2: The Songs of Advent 1: The Benedictus, A Freedom Song

Malachi 3:1-4, Song of Zechariah, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6

Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod and Philip and Lysanias,
and Annas
and Caiaphas.

By listing those names like that, St. Luke is writing like a typical historian of the Roman Empire. St. Luke is evidently writing for a Gentile public.

And by the movement in those names from the emperor to the high priest he moves us from the global to the local, from the universal to the particular, in order to say that this particular local story has global and universal significance. And just the mention of Tiberius implies a significance is both political and personal.

You could not escape Tiberius. His face was on their coins. His life story was well known. In his childhood, his father had to surrender his mother Livia to Caesar Augustus for his new wife, and thus Tiberius became Caesar’s stepson, although they never liked each other. Tiberius led his stepfather’s legions from Spain to Germany to Armenia, putting kings on thrones and crowns on their heads. He earned the Roman titles of Lord and Savior. For dynastic reasons, Augustus made him divorce the wife he loved and marry his stepsister, Julia, beautiful and cruel and shamelessly profligate. Augustus adopted him as his heir, and Tiberius succeeded as Caesar in A.D. 14, the most powerful man in that part of the world.

Fifteen years after that, when John the Baptist stepped up, Tiberius was a famously miserable man. By this time he was living in self-imposed exile on an island – while still in power. He hated the city of Rome, he hated its Senate and its populace, he hated his officials, he hated his heir Caligula, he hated his wife, he hated his life, and everybody hated him back, even though, as he knew, they’d declare him a god posthumously. He hated that too. So powerful and yet so trapped, so bound.

Neither was Pontius Pilate free. We all know the story of how he was manipulated by the crowd. So poorly did he govern the impossible province of Judea that he got recalled to Rome and there committed suicide. As for Herod and his brother Philip, they could not get free of other, but plotted against each other and slept with each others’ wives. And the high priests Annas and Caiaphas just showed what Roman puppets they were when they told Pilate that they had no king but Caesar and denied the claims of the God they served. Bondage, both outward and inward, political and personal. The constrictions of the state and the compulsions of your soul.

Freedom. Freedom is precious and rare. What kind of freedom should you be desiring? The cue for freedom is from the Song of Zechariah, which we just read. This is the Zechariah who was the father of John the Baptist. He was a priest, and he was old. He and his wife Elizabeth had had no children. Like Abraham and Sarah. They represented the emptiness of everyone in Israel, their lives of quiet desperation.

But then Elizabeth, in her old age, like Sarah, got pregnant, and when she gave birth to John, this song came out of Zechariah’s mouth. It’s a freedom song: “God has come to set his people free, free to worship him without fear, all the days of our life.” You see, Zechariah had always to do his priestly duties under the watchful eyes of the Roman soldiers from their fortress on the Temple wall.

Today is the first in my little sermon series on the songs of Advent. I mean the songs we call the Canticles. A canticle is a hymn taken from the Bible but other than the Psalms. St. Luke gives us four of them: the Canticles of Zechariah, of Mary, of the Heavenly Host, and of Simeon. It’s like St. Luke sees the first two chapters of the Gospel as a musical, and his characters break out in song. The birth of Jesus means new songs from old men and young women and from angels too. It’s no wonder that Christmas is such a musical holiday–St. Luke started it.

I recite the Canticle of Zechariah every morning when I pray, along with many millions of other Christians who follow the great tradition of Morning Prayer. We do this because of the wonderfully contradictory thing it does: it gives us words to pray, at the same time as silencing our own thoughts and putting at rest our need to come up with our own words. It’s liberating. Already in the morning.

The canticle is in two parts, with the eyes of Zechariah heavenward, and then looking down at his son. The first half is the song of an old priest recalling the past and its promises and prophecies, as from Malachi 3, now suddenly to be fulfilled. “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel.” “Baruch Adonai Elohey Yisroel.” He’s quoting the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple. He sings of freedom several times: free from our enemies, free from the hands of those who hate us, free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship without fear, free to be holy, and free to be righteous in God’s sight.

This is that outward public freedom, the political freedom from oppression, which is very much the interest of the gospel. But to attain it the gospel never offers an outward political strategy (other than the church being the church), but rather the inward freedom of your personal liberation by the forgiveness of your sins, and the dawn upon your darkness to break the shadow of your death, and to guide your feet into the way of peace. It makes the political personal.

And I love how personal it gets. “And you my child.” It’s sweeter in Spanish, “Y tu niño.” It gets that personal every morning in our prayers. Me too, God’s child, you too, this freedom is for you.

What freedom should you desire? The freedom of worship, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of speech, the freedom from want, the freedom from fear. The thousands and thousands of refugees remind us how rare and precious these freedoms are, so you dare not take them for granted. And Biblical people must desire these political freedoms for all the people of the world.

Freedom from guilt, freedom from unforgiven sin. This is offered to you for the taking, and no government can take it from you. You get this freedom through repentance. That’s the message of Advent as a penitential season, that repentance is not a burden but a liberation. You recount your sin to God as a way of giving it up to God, who takes it away from you, and replaces it with light.

I’ve been asking myself all week what is the freedom that I’m most desiring. And it came to me that what I desire is the freedom to keep believing, in spite of all the misery and violence that seems unabated in the world. The freedom to worship, not because of any restrictions by the government, but because of the noise of guns and cries of the children and the grieving of the nations. How can we still say that God is good? How can we say that Jesus is Lord? Where’s the evidence of it? The world makes no less sense if none of it is true. Some things make more sense. Not all, but some.

These things can be argued; you could argue for all the good work in the world that so many Christians do, but so do many who are not Christians, and look how much damage Christians do. Why does God allow God’s own people to be violent and racist and sexist and homophobic and Islamophobic? So what I desire is my inner freedom to still believe and our communal freedom to keep on worshiping.

Freedom from frustration, with the church and with the nation, and even frustration with myself. Freedom from the festering of anger and the cultivation of anger and being possessed by anger. Freedom from fear for the planet and fear for our future. Freedom from the darkness that thickens every morning with the news. Freedom in all of this to still believe, freedom in all of this to say that God is good, freedom to maintain that forgiveness still is right.

Freedom to trust in God. Freedom to wait on God. Freedom to worship God while waiting for God. Advent is for both repentance and waiting. Longing. Desiring.
You want to wait but not as passivity.
You want to be silent but not as denial.
You want to be still but not as dead.
You want the freedom to say Yes in all the Negation.
You want the freedom to be joyful anyway.
You want the freedom to believe that God is love, and that love wins because God wins, and it does take mental freedom to believe that. God gives you the freedom.

God waits. Love waits. That’s what love does. You have the room and the time and the space to cultivate your longing and desiring. Do it. The greater your desire for God, the more you will know God’s love.

Copyright © 2015, by Daniel James Meeter, all rights reserved.