Await for the Lord,
whose day is near.
Wait for the Lord:
keep watch, take heart!
Donald Gallagher is painting a map of the world on a large canvass that our church will use during worship on Christmas Eve straight through Epiphany. For the last two Sundays at Grace, everyone has been invited to color in the countries on the continents during coffee hour. On the first Sunday, a few people sprawled across the oceans and drew in the nations on Africa and South America. It was moving to watch. Their careful outlining and naming was clearly a way of touching the people in the countries they shaped.
Last Sunday after worship I saw someone bundled up in a hat, scarf and jacket standing on and staring at the map in silence for a long time. I went over to invite this person to grab some pencils and start coloring, but to also explain that we need everyone who stands on the map to take off their shoes. The person stepped off, removed her hood and smiled. It was a soldier I’d prayed with almost a year ago, just before she was deployed to the Mideast. She asked if she could draw in Iraq because she had been there. Then she cried and told me about the goodness and hardships of the people she’d met.
During Advent we wait for God but it isn’t passive waiting. Advent waiting is kind of like the waiting the wife of the soldier I just told you about did every day until her beloved came home. When you wait for God, you always remember that you belong to someone else besides yourself. And you live for two.
Jesus, our beloved, told us to risk touching the world’s wounds. What does this mean for you? Does it mean forgiving someone who hurt you? Does it mean sending a donation to Doctors Without Borders or bringing coffee to the guy who pan handles by the McDonalds and remembering his name? Doing any of that on your own account could make you feel hopeless. After all, how can some small gesture of yours make any difference? But if you do those things while you wait for Jesus, every act of love you make is like a wedding ring or the notes your mother used to put in your lunch: they’re all just signs- signs of something true and much bigger.
As is this beautiful chanted prayer from Taize. Listen here if you’d like: