December 10, 2014 - The Spirit of the Season

December 10, 2014 - The Spirit of the Season
Ryan Scott

Psalm 38

I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all day long I go around mourning.
- Psalm 38:6

Advent is my favorite time of year. No, not the modern Advent, which is little more than pre-Christmas, but the deep, thick, contemplative Advent. It’s my favorite time of year because I tend to be low on self-confidence. I call myself a realist, but that’s just being optimistic.  This Psalm of David always hits home with me. As dark and difficult the subject matter, I am always comforted.

David, with all his faults – perhaps because of his faults – understood what it means to be real, honest. He was not afraid. Not of the giant and not of the doubt. The man who walked across the valley with five smooth stones knew his God would watch over him. He did so, I think, because he spent a lot of time facing the reality of the world around him.

Too often, especially near Christmas, we gloss over the pain, the injustice, the failure of ourselves and our world. We think of candy canes and a beautiful baby lying in the manger. But just as Easter Sunday requires a journey through Lenten pain, Advent is a season of mourning.

This is the time of year when we’re fully encouraged to shake our fingers in God’s face and say, “How could you let this happen? The world is not supposed to be this way.” Advent is the season for airing our grievances, voicing our doubts, confessing our failures. This is when, like David, we cry out from the wretched hole we find ourselves in and plead for someone, anyone to help us.

We do so with great hope, of course. God has sent help, perhaps not in the expected way, but in a way most appropriate. We will celebrate the response to our problems in due time. But for now, we wait.

Advent is about anticipation. I find it freeing. The rest of the year there is pressure to perform; appropriate or not, I am expected to do something about the problems in this world, in my life. During Advent, we leave them all at the feet of God. It is here we confess our utter inability to do anything about the world around us.

We lean forward into a new year, with great hope for God’s reconciliation. We can do so, even in the midst of torments and terror, because the only possible answer to such suffering is an almighty grace.

Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help. Amen

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