Listen for Advent

Listen for Advent

Donna Schaper

"There the Lord will redeem you from the hands of your enemies." - Micah 4:10

Hark!  Listen up. Advent is often a whisper. It is more like a song that is sung first by one group, then by a larger group, then by a whole group, giving meaning to the sense of cadence that Christmas often has.

Advent is so subtle that it may need a hearing aid. We need help to hear Advent because it has so much competition. It is like we are in an airport where everybody is announcing every few minutes that we have to pay attention to potential errors if not potential dangers. "If you see something, say something."  Furthermore, we are not to leave our bags unattended. Or our flight could be leaving the gate any second, without us. In the middle of these warnings, Advent sends a deeper warning. "The Lord will redeem you from the hands of your enemies."

Note that there is an implication that we do have enemies. Hear the enemy part as much as you do the redemption part. Why? Anything that goes straight to the redemption is spiritually naive. Anything that stays stuck on the enemies is spiritually paranoid. To avoid either insult, or incompletion, we must focus. Focus faces fears, only to transcend them.

There are reasons to be afraid. So many hopes have so many enemies. Every day most people have the hope that they will get home safely and not miss the plane; that the tires they forgot to rotate or repair will carry them home. Many migrant laborers send money home at the end of the week as a vague way of redeeming hard labor, repetitive motion, and little respect. Many of us hope for a stress-free day the way children hope for Christmas, mouths wide open, fantasies abundant, reality left checked at the gate.

And yet our enemies are nothing compared to the Almighty who will redeem us from them.

Prayer

God of Jerusalem and Babylon, of our enemies and our friends, our fears and our faith, draw near. Come close enough that we can hear you. Amen.

About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Grace at Table: Small Spiritual Solutions to Large Material Problems.