Advent Devotional: December 12

Posted by meclary on December 12, 2016

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"Be patient therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord."
– James 5:7-10
Each lectionary reading given to this day teems with the admonition: have patience. God is redeeming the people, healing the earth. A great day in Zion is coming! Until then, look to the prophets. Endure.
Often lately, this feels too much to ask. When Isaiah foretells that "the dry land shall be glad, the desert rejoice," I worry over the reality of desertification, the water shortage that 1 in 6 experience daily. When he proclaims that the "glory of Lebanon shall be given to it," I lament Palestinian displacement and nearly 50 years of war. When the Psalmist says that the prisoners shall be set free, I am crushed by the actuality of mass incarceration – the 700% increase in prisoners since the 1970s, the 1 in 3 chance that a black American male will end up in prison. Have patience?
But James insists: the day will come. For now, like a farmer watches over his crop, tend faith in the expected course of things. Strengthen yourselves: cultivate forbearance like the resilience of a reed, do not sow disunity by grousing against each other. Persevere in loving attention to the health of yourself, your loved ones, the land of your dwelling and all who take nourishment from it. Let the might of your patience make tender people of you.
These days, when I feel weak under the rush of anxiety, I brace myself by silently repeating these simple words of St. Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing upset you. Let nothing frighten you.
Everything is changing. God alone is changeless.
Patience attains the goal.
Who has God lacks nothing. God alone fills every need.

These words curb my hemorrhaging emotions, re-center my attention upon more stable truths, and reassure me so that I don't take out my fears by hurting others. I recommend this simple practice to anyone. Over and over, they help me to endure dark moments and fortify my resolve. They give me strength to choose kindness. They grant me courage to stand my ground. They offer a platform for connection, for they help me to remember that God lives in all and is concerned for the needs of all.
As we await our North Star on bleak nights when it's easy to lose sight, may our hearts continue to alight on this promise: One is coming who saves us from our wounded ways. Like the patient farmer, may we do the hard work to prepare our hearts as lovers and peacemakers. When the time seems long, may we shout into the dark: Good news! And keep stride with confidence that patience attains the goal. 
In Christ,
Jennifer Hancock-Gattis, NorthPark Member


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