For those of us who follow the Christian tradition, now is the season of advent, a time of waiting. And whether or not we are Christian I believe that Unitarian Universalists and progressives of any or no faith have something to learn from this Christian season of advent this year.
Because we are waiting. Oh how we long for a day when no more unarmed black boys or men are shot by police. Oh how we long for a day when the police who do shoot unarmed black men and boys are held accountable for their actions. Oh how we long for a day when every single American would rise up and say “enough is enough; we must end this violence!” Oh how we wait.
Waiting can be discouraging. Can be demoralizing. Can bring despair, paralysis, denial, a turning off. Waiting can feel passive.
But I think, this advent season, we are called to wait differently. We are called to active hopeful waiting.
This advent season, wait like Mary.
Wait like a poor undocumented pregnant teenager in an occupied territory who knows she is sacred, who proudly proclaims that all generations will call her blessed.
If you too, know oppression in our current society, remember how very sacred you are. Remember that you are co-creating divinity itself with your life. Remember that the Christian Bible and so many ancient sacred texts confirm what you know: the poor and oppressed matter deeply. #blacklivesmatter
Wait like Mary.
Let your soul magnify the divine, praise a God who would scatter the proud, bring down the mighty and fill the hungry with good things, while the rich are sent away empty.
Whoever you are, make your voice heard. Bear witness. Protest, preach, pray, gather, walk out, boycott. Follow the Ferguson National Response Network to see what events are happening in your area. Today, on December 4th we show up for Eric Garner, because his life matters and the man who killed him should go to trial. Visit FergusonNext and share your specific solutions for how our society can move forward.
Wait like Joseph, too.
Wait like a man who stands by his pregnant fiancée when his society tells him she is wrong, unrespectable, immoral and when he himself is confused.
Think carefully about the judgments you make and hear. Learn to value justice and righteous anger more than respectability and peace. Push yourself to dialogue with those who do not understand. Find a way to stand with those who are bringing divinity into this world, even if they are not doing it exactly the way you’d like.
Yes wait, even wait like God.
Wait like a force so powerful it created the entire universe, so loving it was willing to become a fragile baby human, born into poverty and an occupying empire. Wait like a God who gets fleshy, gets vulnerable, gets into radical empathy with the oppressed by literally becoming one of them.
Listen to those who are suffering. Listen to those who are executed by the state the way Jesus would be as a young adult. Listen to those who experience violence, occupation, condemnation. We cannot, like the God of the advent story, become a human of a certain time, place and social situation, but we can practice radical empathy as best we know how.
And so in this way, we wait. We wait for a new creation, a beloved community, a way of living into relationship that defies the racist systems that destroy lives in our country and our world. We wait in this time of advent.
I learned to love advent in seminary. Learned to love the story of Jesus coming into the world, learned to love the candles, learned to love my favorite advent song, The Canticle of the Turning. It is a lively song set to the tune “star of the county down” and based on Mary’s “Magnificat” from the book of Luke, whose chorus goes:
My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of your justice burn
Wipe away all tears for the dawn draws near
and the world is about to turn.
Often times I am not nearly as active as I could be in creating more racial justice in our society. Often times I am not nearly as hopeful as I could be that another way is truly possible. But I sing this song anyway, an act of faith to remind myself to wait with active hopeful waiting.
For if we all wait this way, like Mary, like Joseph, like God, then indeed, the dawn will draw near, for the world is about to turn.
For the world is about to turn.
This reading is also a published blogpost which includes links and pictures.