Tuesday, December 06, 2011

First Wednesday of Advent

Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
   for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
   he gathers the outcasts of Israel. 
He heals the broken-hearted,
   and binds up their wounds. 
He determines the number of the stars;
   he gives to all of them their names. 
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
   his understanding is beyond measure. 
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
   he casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
                Psalm 147:1-7a

Travel, packing, long lines at the ticket counter, waiting for an overdue plane or train, wondering when the phone will ring and we will hear the words, 'we're here!'  This is the time of year when folks travel, when we go to someone's house or they come to ours, when families get together for their annual holiday reunion.

For many, as hectic as it is, we look forward to such gatherings.  We love to decorate, to cook, to get the guest rooms ready.  We enjoy the old stories being told (for the umpteenth time), the same old jokes, getting a chance to see who has gotten more grey hair or who has lost more, who has traveled the furthest.  Getting together with as many people as possible is what makes the season so wonderful for us (though to be honest, most of us subscribe to the old bromide that relatives are like fish - after three days, throw them out!).

But for others of us, we would rather undergo root canal than gather with our families.  We know we will sit around tables talking superficially, while the painful stories lie just under the table licking at our feet.  We will have to 'make nice' with the one who delighted in ridiculing us when we were growing up, with the one who has always made sure to let us know how worthless we are, to be in the same room with that relative who made life so unbearable for us.  No wonder we can come up with so many creative excuses as to why we can't go home this year.

But there is One who is coming who is gracious to all of us who have been treated with contempt.  There is One who, with the tools of hope and peace, comes to rebuild our lives.  There is One who, despite everything the experts tell us, has the gifts of compassion, of healing, of reconciliation to mend every broken place in our soul, who wraps us in the gentle swaddling cloths of love and cradles us in wonder.  There is One who comes to pick us up and carry us, however far, until we have regained the strength to walk on our own.

And we can sing with thanksgiving to this One, who not only comes, but who chooses to stay with us.

(c) 2011 Thom M. Shuman

No comments: