Last night I sat around a wooden stool with three other women from Union as we read scripture and poetry and lit candles in memory of women of faith–our predecessors and our contemporaries–who have suffered from violence. As we sat in reflective silence, I thought about this season of Advent–a season marked by expectant anticipation.
There is much that I anticipate with the coming of our Lord, and yet I wouldn’t call my personal attitude “expectant.” Expectant makes me think of Mary: serene, composed, thankful. When I on the other hand find myself in a season of waiting on God to arrive on the scene, I feel less serene and more anxious, tearful, and angry.
In reading aloud the story of Jephthah’s daughter from Judges 11, I was struck not only by the violence suffered by this young woman, but by the violence surrounding her life and her people. Hers was a context of war. It’s vastly (vastly) different from this Western urban lifestyle I lead, but nonetheless I find myself longing for healing. For myself, yes, but for our world too. For the conflicts in the Middle East, in the inner city, in suburban homes. It’s all around us in our attitudes and our ignorance, in what we say and what we don’t say.
Advent reminds me of Good Friday, another time that we sit in darkness and wait for our savior to arrive. A co-worker reminded me just yesterday that on that first Good Friday the disciples didn’t know that there would be redemption. We have a different view. We know the end of the story and yet we live in the midst of it too. Sometimes we’re more composed and sometimes we just cry for the state of the world, but Christmas is coming and it’s a joy to behold: a baby born in a manger who will do far more than we could ever ask or even imagine.