To announce and encourage a season of waiting seems preposterous to me sometimes. Too many people suffer through enforced waiting every day, and every path they try to take through their life’s wildernesses is blocked by human wreckage. The lectionary Gospel reading last week from Mark spoke of stars falling from the heavens, and for some people that image is not a metaphor. Some people’s skies are empty of signs of hope, and they can’t see a way through the darkness.
Yes, the realities of racism, violence against women, food insecurity, political unrest—so many painful realities that people face into everyday—make it hard for me to light the candles of Advent and sing hymns of waiting. We have waited long enough.
I wrestled with these thoughts as the prelude began in my church last week on the first Sunday in Advent. Then, with no rehearsal or liturgical prompting, three children formed into a circle at the front of the church and began to dance. Their innocent joy reached out into the sanctuary and, for a few moments at least, quieted my restless spirit.
As we enter into the second week of Advent and hear in the lectionary “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way,’” I am still restless for Gospel justice and peace to come soon. But those dancing children sparked in me a new imagining. Perhaps the sacred Star-flinger who sequined the skies in the beginning with light is now sowing stars into hungry and thirsty wildernesses by sending us—you and me—out to be lights of hope and peace. The stars have fallen from the heavens, and God calls us to carry—in our everyday actions—God’s light into the world. And we don’t have to wait to say “yes” to that call.
Photo by Sheila Hunter.
About Jill Crainshaw
Jill Crainshaw is a PCUSA minister and Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. She is the author of several books on worship and ministry.