CAMINANDO WITH JESUS: For a World About to Be Born
Jesus said: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
- Luke 21:25-36
A Prayer for the Life of the World
In lives where love has been born this day
thanks be to you, O God.
In families where forgiveness has been strong
thanks be to you.
In nations where wrongs have been addressed
where tenderness has been cherished
and where visions for earth’s oneness have been served
thanks be to you.
May those who are weary find rest this night.
May those who carry great burdens for their people find strength.
May the midwives of new beginnings in our world find hope.
And may the least among us find greatness
strength in our souls
worth in our words
love in our living.
-John Philip Newell, Praying with the Earth, p. 7)
We pray for the world all the time. And it seems the world is in even greater need of then now! Can anyone who was around at the time remember how optimistic we felt when the Cold War ended? The great hopes that rose in our hearts as we watched, on live TV no less, the Berlin Wall coming down piece by piece? It now seems so long ago, almost a dream.
The world is groaning with travail these days. It remains a dangerous place, thanks to us humans merely beings, as e.e. cummings calls us. Our capability to destroy almost seems to outpace our ability to build. I have to tell you that I’m hard-pressed to say much about the headlines as each week seems to bring a new unspeakable horror both at home and abroad. Just yesterday I read in horror about a man in an SUV plowing through a crowd of vulnerable people who were part of the Christmas parade in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And the verdict in the Rittenhouse murder trial seemed to turn unarmed victims into life-threatening menaces while the young man with armed with a weapon of war who took their lives is lionized as an icon of self-defense. We are a hot mess.
And I am tired of simply saying prayers for the world.
Perhaps some of you are as well.
What are we to do?
Well, to begin with, I believe that prayer is a very dangerous thing. You see, once we get done saying things and we dust off our knees, prayer that aligns our hearts with the heart of God moves us to doing things.
A couple of weeks ago we heard Jesus, in Mark’s Gospel, tell us that these are the birth pangs. The heart of God is filled with hope, faith, and love. Let us hang on to those words!
Advent reminds us that God has a dream of a new creation that will both emerge from within history and arrive from without by the grace and mercy of God. There is a telos, a destination and purpose to the divine adventure that we call Creation.
Advent is a great season because it renews our hope. Advent is also a tough season because we are waiting for a world to be born.
It is an active waiting though. We are not sitting around in some Waiting Room nervously perusing old magazines until we are told that the baby has arrived. We are midwives, filled with hope, present to and assisting the birth. Jesus invites us to lift up our heads, to remember that the promise of a new heaven and a new earth will be fulfilled. As the Hon. John Lewis, of blessed memory, wrote just before his death, “each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world at peace with itself.” (July 30, 2020 op-ed in The New York Times. Emphasis mine.)
So let us keep our souls strong, be true to our words of faith, and show love to all in our daily living. For just as love had the first word, love will have the last word. “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”
This is the work of Advent.
The Rev. Daniel Robayo is the missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries in the Diocese of North Carolina.
Tags: Caminando with Jesus