First Sunday in Advent
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Two months ago, NorthPark Presbyterian hosted Dr. Warner Bailey, a pastor and theologian, who has written an entire book on the phrase "put to shame" in the Psalms. He taught us that instead of being about "shame" as we usually interpret the word, being "put to shame" is to be let down, to be abandoned, to be embarrassed for believing in the person or thing that has utterly disappointed you. In this particular the psalmist begs God not to let him down, to appear to the people, to vindicate those who wait for the Lord.
Advent is literally about waiting for the Lord. We wait for Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Christ and the incarnation, but we also wait for Christ to return, to come back to us on earth. This is a season not just for waiting, but also for preparation. We want to prepare the world for Jesus.
This year I really identify with the psalmist because I’m frightened.
I’m frightened of the increasing violence and terrorism all over the world. I’m frightened of how our nations will respond (too harshly? Too gently?) I’m afraid of becoming jaded and full of hate and fear. How can I welcome Jesus back to our world in such a state? How can I invite him anew into my own heart if it is dark, cold, and unwelcoming? And I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m afraid that God will let me down and that darkness will win, like the psalmist writes.
And just like the Psalmist I know that lifting those fears to God will help ease them. We give our worries to God, and God gives us Hope in return. Advent is also a whole season of Hope as we optimistically ponder what God has planned for the world. We celebrate what we hear in John 1:5, "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."
Our savior is coming. We will not be put to shame. He will not let us down.