Roger Lovette writes about cultural concerns, healthy faith and matters of the heart.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Ponderings for the Second Week in Advent
"On your way to Bethlehem
may you be surprised
by some crazy angel
who has for you
of a great joy
which will come
to all the people
and expecially to you."
Sunday – December 5 – Isaiah 5. 1-7. Today we light the second candle of Advent. We move closer to the manger. It is still weeks before Christmas and there is much to do. Isaiah, waiting for the enemy to take their land reminded the people of God’s love and care for God’s people. The first two verses sound like part of the love song in Song of Songs. The Lord God planted a vineyard—Israel—he cared for it and loved it like a good farmer. But they dismantled what God had done. The field did not yield the fruit they longed for. Judgment is at the center of this reading. Is this why the dark storm clouds gathered and Israel would be invaded? We must not forget the standard by which our country, our lives and the world is to be judged.
Monday – December 6 – Psalm 25 – The story comes from Paris. A tourist stepped into the vestibule of the cathedral as the choir was practicing the Twenty-third portion of the Mass. “Lamb of God who takest away the sin of the world have mercy upon us.” From the shadows the man heard a moan as the choir sang the chorus over and over. The tourist looking closely saw someone in the shadows who was visibly upset. He began to cry out: “Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world—if only he could…oh, if only he could.” And with that the man ran out of the church and down the street. Ponder the mystery written to exiles and sinners everywhere—God can! God can! Thanks be to God.
Tuesday – December 7 – Luke 21. 20-28. I used to hear preachers preach on this Lukan passage. Jesus was coming soon. We better be careful of what we do. Not Santa Claus but Jesus was coming to town! It would be an awful time…rivers turned to blood, God’s wrath poured out everywhere. For a little boy this was scary talk and this passage found its way into my dreams—or at least the preachers’ interpretation. On this day in 1961 I was six years old. One of my earliest memories was the attack on Pearl Harbor. The President calling this “a day of infamy.” I wondered even then was the old passage coming true before my very eyes? 49 years have passed. Many died after that attack in World War II. Some rivers really did turn to blood. The Greatest generation was born and we are still here. I missed the point—as did those preachers. Verse 28 sets it in context: “Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing nigh.” Maybe it simply means we are, in the hard times, raise our heads and give ourselves to the care of the Father.
Wednesday – December 8 – Psalm 38. The Bible is a realistic book—especially the Psalms. Here some believer stands in the darkness. It think it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said, “In the dark night of the soul it is always 3:00 o’clock in the morning.” Remember the outcry when some reporter opened up Mother Theresa’s diary and read that some days she confessed she could not believe at all. Many were outraged. We Christians know better. There really is a dark night of the soul and it doesn’t last forever. Mother Theresa kept picking up those little starving of babies and tried to nurse them back to life. So, like dear Mother and the Psalmist, too—even in our darkness we wait for God.
Thursday – December 9 – Psalm 37. The tom-tom beat of the Psalm is: “do not fret.” The injustices of the world pressed down on that writer and his people. No wonder they fretted. But, thank God, there is a word that outlasts our frets. Verse 7 says: “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him…” Rita Snowden tells the story of the little woman in an English village having a hard time. “How can you stand it?” someone asked. The little woman smiled and said, “I thatched my roof when the sun was shining.”
Friday – December 10 – Isaiah 7. 1-9. When the RSV came out there had not been that many translations of the Bible that had been popularized. And part of the church was outraged. Some because they said the Elizabethan language had been destroyed in the Bible. Some said the ndew translation was just heresy. A few even burned this new Bible. One of the reasons they gave was Isaiah 7.14: “ Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a child…” The KJV said: “A virgin shall conceive.” Critics said these new translators were trying to sneak in the idea that Mary was not a virgin. Scholars tell us that this passage was not talking about Mary. The original really should read: young woman. Well, the hoopla is gone. The church loved this verse and made it their own. Isaiah did not have the Messiah in mind but some king. Whatever. Once upon a time, years later a young woman named Mary did conceive…and thank God Immanuel really has come to stay.
Saturday – December 11 – Luke 22.31. Jesus’ last days were running out. Judas had already left the table to plot his demise. Disciples jostled about who was the greatest. And Simon, the strong belligerent disciple Jesus always leaned on would deny his Lord three times that very night. But Jesus told him that he would fail miserably. Simon, of course protested. But when Luke put his gospel together he stitched in some words of Jesus: “I have prayed for you, Simon that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once again you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” We know the rest of that story. Peter's story reminds me of the old farmer asked the old monk what they did they do, up there on the hill behind those monastery walls. The old monk replied, “We fall down and we get up and we fall down and we get up.” This has always been the journey of the pilgrim.