By Adam McDuffie
We find ourselves in the midst of Advent, waiting once again. Every year, we go through every day and every month, but come December, we find ourselves in the same place: waiting once again.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Through all the pain, through all the suffering, we look for something, anything, to emerge and provide us some hope. We strain our eyes to see any light that may appear in the darkness. We wait.
O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go.
We look to our left and right and see violence and death. We look around our world and the streets of our own cities and see the homeless and the hungry. We look and seek the way forward. We wait.
O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.
We look for guidance from the God who led the Israelites from captivity in a pillar of cloud. We look for some hint of a promise that change will come. Some indication that a day will come when we won’t hear about a shooting in California or a bombing in Egypt and just skim past the article. We yearn for a day when we will no longer find ourselves desensitized to violence. We pray for a day when the status quo will not be one of violence but one of your law of love. We wait.
O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave.
“How long, O Lord?” we ask. We look for salvation, for hope, for change, for peace. We never seem to find it. But, still, we cling to hope, and continue to search. We wait.
O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death’s abode.
We begin to give up hope for this world. We start looking heavenward, or anywhere else, really. We withdraw from reality and give up on any change. We wait.
O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light.
As we travel further into winter, the nights grow long, dark, and cold. The world around us appears to do the same. We look for a light, anything to brighten the path ahead of us in the hopes of being able to see something better at the end of our road. We wait.
O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.
But we wait and we wait, and we see little change. And then we come to the end of Advent. Every year, we reach this point and are reminded of these words of comfort:
Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.
And the Word became flesh and made its home among us, and we have seen its glory, glory as of the father’s only son, full of grace and truth (John 1.14).
We wait and we wait, and in waiting we grow weary and forget. We forget that what we’ve waited for has already happened. The Word pitched its tent and came down to be here among us, to be in existence right alongside us in our struggle. The light in the darkness has already been lit, we just need to broaden our gaze and recognize it.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.
Emmanuel. God with us. The Word took on flesh and came to dwell on this earth. The ball’s in our court. It’s time to stop waiting and start doing.