Thursday, First Week of Advent
December, 4, 2014
I’m sure someone’s going to tell me that I am too young to be weary, but I am sometimes.
I’m weary of the same things as you are, I imagine: dishes, laundry, it being dark before I get home from work, grocery shopping, long days, the cushions slowly sliding off the couch, and the fact that the dog still needs to go for a walk when it’s pouring down rain. Nothing drastic or terrible — just the monotony of doing the same tasks time and time again.
Yet Advent invites us to remember a different kind of weariness: a weariness of waiting. God had promised the Jewish people a deliverer a long time ago. These people who remembered so well the stories of the glory days of the Exodus, of David’s kingship, and of the rebuilding of Jerusalem longed for God to raise them up again and to set things right for them. And yet I can’t help but imagine that with each passing generation, the flame of hope grew fainter. I can’t help but think that with each defeat, each new government, the doubts in their hearts must have grown a little louder.
And so what lovely, reassuring words the angels speak to the shepherds in Luke: “Do not be afraid; for see -- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah.” (Luke 2:10b-11, NRSV). Scripture doesn’t tell us whether the shepherds are Jews or not, and I’m not sure it matters. Whoever they are, they certainly recognize what’s happening. How wonderful to hear that the wait was over and to go to Bethlehem and see for themselves that God had indeed fulfilled God’s promise, not only for the sake of the Jews but for the sake of the whole world.
I’ve always pictured “O Holy Night” set in that field where the shepherds watched over their flocks. The lines “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn,” seem to me a perfect description of what happened that night. The whole weary world received a gift from God that would change everything. May all who are weary rejoice.