Today, there was a snowfall, a surprise quiet storm. Early in the morning, before the traffic, the only sounds were the birds in the trees, looking for their suet, and their sunflower seeds. Over the last few days, Advent takes hold of my soul. The beginning is always busy, and this year, felt like a catapult, coming off of the Thanksgiving week-end. We were blessed at St. Paul, in the first Sunday of Advent, to hold a communal affirmation of baptism. Thirteen people who have been attending worship regularly and participating in the life of the church decided to affirm their baptisms, including the laying on of hands and the prayer for the Holy Spirit. It was deeply moving for all of us; there were tears and smiles, and we agreed that affirmation of baptism is a wonderful way to start a new church year. The first week of our season, here, included preparations for the Christmas Fair, so the building was busy from top to bottom–church attic to Undercroft; the halls and rooms filled with the fragrances of baking bread, fish chowder, balsam fir, and spices. There was a certain comfort in routine, though, as we all took in the news from New York, that echoed the news from Ferguson, Mo. No indictments. Someone asked me, are you preaching about Ferguson. I said, yes, Ferguson and New York are there in the sermons, and in our prayers, because Advent is a time where we listen to prophets whose hearts ache for justice. How could we not acknowledge the reality of suffering that racism and violence cause? Prophets tell the truth about reality; Jesus did, too. Churches are called to do that, too, for we are the body of Christ in this world.
I found a quotation by Andrew Harvey, this week. “Love is what makes you wild for justice.” I’m pretty sure the prophets’ hearts were lit up with wild divine and fiery love that cannot be satisfied with anything less than the reign of God manifested on earth. We pray that all the time–“thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” I’m grateful this Advent for prophets’ voices, for it frees me up to tap into the deep river of biblical hope that the prophets announce. Their yearnings, their devotion, their truth-telling make a path in the wilderness, and clear a way for the rest of us. Tonight, in the darkness, after snow fall, as stars come out, we are half-way through this season. I’m listening to ancient and new voices, 21st century Advent protesters, and first century protester, John the Baptist, and further back to Isaiah, the great prophet of a broken people: “For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.” Here in the winter of the year, may your heart be the place where righteousness, love of justice, and praise spring up.