“I’m just can’t drum up any enthusiasm for Christmas,” the nurse at the doctor’s surgery said, as did the Warehouse shop assistant. “Me too,” the incognito priest whispered in her heart.
It’s been a long year of many sighs, tears, and fears as history has unfolded, ushering in not hope, but fear. The world is shaking, literally and figuratively, at every level; locally, globally, environmentally, ecologically, politically and spiritually. And it is deeply, deeply personal.
The advent cry, ‘the end is nigh’ is not so difficult to consider. The joy and peace proclaimed feels less accessible as they may have been a year ago. Perhaps.
We are urged to remember – to remember the prophets, those women and men, of old and recent past, who in every age proclaimed a future hope in the face of unrelenting despair. With lion-hearted courage they roared messages of hope, painting visions of extraordinary personal and ecological reversals. Every time against extreme odds! They never lived to see their God-seeded dreams of reversal come true.
deserts will blossom abundantly
waters shall break forth
burning sand turned to glistening pools
joyful singing instead of sorrow-filled weeping
the silenced speaking
the widow and orphan upheld
the bowed down lifted up
the stranger watched over with mercy
prisoners set free
And yet, they have come true in part and still do - even today, though seldom are they announced on big or mini screens. Feeble hearts, feeble knees - stop shaking, stand true, stand tall! It’s time to remember and give thanks for the grand reversals that are still happening – the student who proclaims after three years of study, “I now know I am a proud and humble Māori man”, the colossal solidarity expressed at Standing Rock, the tenderness of encouragement from the unexpected source, Muslims and Catholics passing peace together, the friend who sits with you in your pain without judgement or expectation.
So if we are worn out, let’s take the time to rest but we don’t get to give up. Ever. Like Elijah, eat, sleep, rest, be … let’s be cared for by God’s creatures – human and non-human alike, and then let’s stand back up. We must continue to be ones who watche over, lift up, unstop blocked ears, speak up and out, and who help the ‘blind’ to see.
Like the prophets of old, we must also accept that we stand in a tradition which simultaneously ‘waits and acts’, where fulfilment is always already/not yet. The song of joy will rise unbidden, perhaps quietly at first but increasingly louder and fuller, as the peace of knowing and accepting who we are and to whom we belong soothes the shaky, but not broken, heart.
Image flickr.com, non-commercial use
The Rev. Gayanne Frater is a Priest in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia. She is currently a Lecturer in the School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. Gayanne is also a regular contributor to our Moments page.
She has also provided this link to further reading, Hope in a Time of Global Despair by Kaethe Weingarten. http://www.nzac.org.nz/journal/Vol%2030%20No%201%20Weingarten.pdf