Advent 1: A dream of justice

by susan on December 1, 2015

Advent is off to a beautiful beginning & we would love for you to join in. This Sunday, our community began preparing for the arrival of God’s dream for the world. As we lit a candle for justice, these words were shared in response to Jeremiah 33:14-16:

On Thanksgiving morning, in an attempt to disrupt the cold I felt coming on and in anticipation of the huge meal I was planning to consume, I decided to go for a walk. I headed outside and immediately noticed the homeless gentleman who often goes through our trash & recycling making his way toward our house. I greeted him with a smile and a “good morning” and kept walking toward my car.

I stopped, however, when instead of greeting me back, I heard him say, “What’s good about it? I’m hungry and don’t even have any breakfast.”

I offered to go back inside and get him something to eat and when I came back out with the few things I had on hand, he thanked me and I listened as he shared how he felt about being homeless on Thanksgiving.

This was not the first time we had met, but when at one point our brief conversation, I called him by his name, he just stared back at me: “You know my name?”

His whole demeanor changed. He left with food in hand, feeling slightly more hopeful (as he shared with me) that God would provide enough for today.

I left for my walk, but as you can imagine, this disruption left me very unsettled. I was heading to a Thanksgiving meal overflowing with food & family. James, like many others, would spend the day wandering the streets.

These harsh & unsettling disruptions in our lives and in the world should wake us up to the disconnect between God’s dream for the world and our present reality.

In ancient times, prophets were the people who woke others up. They were compelled by God to interpret the harsh realities of the world. Through prophets like Jeremiah, human catastrophes were turned into invitations for people to wake up and do something.

This was a burdensome role. Prophets were threatened & ostracized for the words they spoke. In fact, this particular part of Jeremiah’s message was spoken from prison.

Jeremiah’s message was directed to a community that had experienced devastation. Their ancestors had followed the Lord out of slavery in Egypt toward a promised land. They had finally settled in a place that had been conquered by the Assyrian empire. Their beloved Jerusalem had been completely devastated in a Babylonian invasion. Their friends, relatives and most of their leaders had been scattered from their homeland and were living as displaced people in Babylonian captivity.

Their way of life had been completely overturned.
Their sense of security had been violated.
They felt hopeless and abandoned.

In the middle of Jeremiah’s message to them comes a word of hope. Jeremiah tells these devastated people that God is up to something. God’s intention, God’s dream, God’s plan for them involves at least two things:

First, it involves radical trust in God’s faithfulness.

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

Like their ancestors, they were called to trust the promise that God was going to bless them to be a blessing. They were to trust that God would take care of them even when everything was falling apart. Jeremiah could speak these words with integrity because he was living them.

God’s dream involves radical trust in God’s faithfulness. And, there was more:
It also included a new righteous king who would lead his people into practicing justice.

In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

God’s dream was to close the gap between God’s intentions & our present reality. God’s dream was that all of God’s people would live secure and safe lives. No one would have to fear for their lives. Everyone would belong. That is what justice looks like.

Trust and justice are two parts of God’s dream and they are deeply connected.

In order for everyone to have enough,
in order for everyone to belong,
in order for everyone to be saved & secure,
the people would have to stop trusting in military kings, in wealth, in false promises and in other gods.

They would have to re-learn radical trust in God as a way of life.

The same can be said for us. We place our trust in many other things, people & gods:
like money, the right job, homes, politics and power to name a few.

So, on this first Sunday of Advent, let us be called back into trust and called back into imagining the world as God would have it.

[To get a glimpse of what this looks look, we listened to this inspiring video conversation with NT Wright.]

How are you experiencing disruption?
What situations in your life, city &  world are waking you up?
How might these disruptions become invitations to imagine things differently?

 

We shared communion & reflected on these questions while listening to Eva Cassidy’s beautiful rendition of Imagine.

Previous post:

Next post: