Unsettling Advent 2023, Day 3
“I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” (Isaiah 43:19)
The Christmas season has finally arrived — God, we need rest. This is the time of year when, even for three weeks, we try to forget our anxieties and pains. We do this by focusing our attention on family and faith and hoping that the darkness surrounding us will dissipate.
We know we are living in a moment in history, in our country and the world, when the levels of violence seem uncontrollable. Are we collectively surrendering to the power of violence? People are at war in Ukraine, in Palestine/Israel, in Burma/Myanmar, and countries on the African continent. Hundreds of thousands are forced to migrate from their homes and lands in search of food, jobs, and peace.
We walk with fear on the streets of our cities and when doing our daily shopping. We feel unsafe in our homes, and our children are in constant fear at school. We live in a state of hypersensitivity, being careful not to offend a friend or neighbor when expressing our convictions. Our levels of tolerance and respect for diversity have vanished.
Too many of us have come to believe the lie that the way to end violence is with more violence. We believe that the very act of killing, applying the death penalty, is a way of teaching us to value life. We fool ourselves into thinking that we will end wars by responding with more war.
The spirit of Advent shows us an alternate reality, God’s reality. The incarnation of God in the Child of Bethlehem shows us a different way of confronting evil, pain, and even death. The Son of Mary offers us an alternative; he invites us to imagine peace and love. He was born and lived for the sole purpose that humanity might attain the fullness of life (John 10:10).
But first, we must believe that God is actively transforming the world. That transformation began with Christ’s birth and was confirmed by his death and resurrection. This process of cosmic renewal was foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the Bible verse quoted above.
Can we believe God’s promise? Can we confidently declare that God is with us, making all things new? Can you see it?
On this Advent season, let’s sing the words of Charles Wesley’s hymn:
Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.
Rev. Carlos L. Malavé is a Presbyterian pastor and the president of the Latino Christian National Network.