Advent Reflection: Numbness

I’ve been kind of numb this week, walking around in a fog. While I want to be immersed in the season of Advent, preparing for Christmas, my mind won’t let go of the names of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and John Crawford. I suppose it’s appropriate, given that all of the scriptures that lead up to Christmas are calls for justice and liberation, but I’ll be honest: I’m tired. I feel small, and helpless, and that my voice is barely a drop in the ocean, and that my prayers often go unheard.

Yet Advent is about holding on to the last shred of hope, believing that a tiny light will shine in the darkest night in the darkest part of the year. I think part of faith, faith-in-the-midst-of-doubt, is the intuition that even after our faith is gone, God can still work—that God doesn’t wait on us to believe to act in tangible ways in human history. Christmas is the sign that hope can be born in the midst of our cynicism, our despairing resignation to business and life as usual, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and nothing ever changes. Our scripture and tradition says that change is already happening—and we can be part of it. In the fog and numbness and darkness, this is the hope I cling to. It is not sentimentality. It is desperation. And it is the raw material out of which God works best.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.

4 thoughts on “Advent Reflection: Numbness

  1. Indeed. It is when men are desperate that they turn to God. The times are coming and are already here, when men will discover that there is no solace in anyone, except in God.

  2. After years of working with abuse and crime survivors, I affirm your feelings… and your point about the heart of Advent. Desperation is a very good starting point for a new year in faith. It means the numbness isn’t holding. God never runs from hard places. That’s where Jesus calmly, quietly shares strength and helps us hold on and keep believing in the dawn. And where he reminds us that we must keep on working to lift up the valleys and smooth the rough places. God, help us to be who we say we are in our dealings with one another.

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