African Advent Scene... getting me in the mood
For the past four months, God seems to be saying,”Listen to me.”
It all started at Bangor Worldwide mission event with Trevor Morrow – see Reacting to the leading of the Holy Spirit in Ireland- and has continued through reading the Bible and talking to people – and sort of reached a climax at the Global Connections conference last week 2020Vision: Mission in times of Global Uncertainty
A few days ago a colleague tweeted: “Do we tell God what we want to do, or ask to be part of what he’s doing?”
This morning I found an Advent Prayer – it starts like this…
O Lord our God, we have heard once again the rumour of rumblings in Bethlehem, anticipating the arrival of our salvation. Hound of heaven, you keep hunting us. You will not leave us alone; you will not abandon us to our distorted desires. We confess that we often long for a saviour who will do our bidding and take up our own personal and public causes. But these ominous sounds of Advent warn us that you will save us on your own terms.
So now we earnestly pray that you will reconsider. Please do not take from us the customary sentimentalities of our Santa Claus Christmas. Yes, we know that we shop and spend too much, and lose our heads during December (even November, and possibly October). But at least this long, hectic season keeps the economy going. There is work for the unemployed, and – “ka-ching” – profit for businesses. And where else will the money come from for boardroom bonuses? Please, Lord, do not discombobulate us with news that the real reason for the season is not the Winter Carnival, the fake Christmas trees, the family fuzzies, the cosy carols, and the dreaded January bank statement.
… continues outrageously…
Yes, O God of kin and country, stop bothering us. The last thing we want to hear is that you are coming towards us out of stark poverty and imperial oppression as an uppity Jew who will challenge the powerful we obey and the opulent we envy. Do not tell us to repent of our illusions, deceits, and betrayals. Do not urge us to let go of a (homeland) security that depends on fear and violence. Do not warn us about our ecological hubris and irresponsibility. Do not call us to comfort the people cramming our jails, feed the homeless begging on our streets, tend the sick waiting for treatment, and welcome the immigrant looking for sanctuary.
… and ends with a touch more orthodoxy – having made its effectively non too subtle nudge at too many of us who call ourselves Christians!
O God of all truth, forgive what we have just been praying, even as we admit that these are the lusts of our hearts. Teach us how to speak of your coming kingdom, of your power disclosed in weakness, in such a way that we might become true and faithful disciples, followers, not fans, of Jesus, the Nonviolent One we crucified because we couldn’t bear his love.
Tell us what you want from us, make us want what you want from us. Do not leave us to ourselves. Do not leave us alone in the darkness of our own making. We are really quite lost. Shine your light in our night. Find us and take us home. Come, O come, Immanuel!
And so I take the hint: how will I spend Christmas? Will I reflect the One whose Incarnation we are celebrating? Will Christmas enrich me to serve my Saviour in 2012 so that many more people will have this story translated into the languages of their hearts?
Here’s the bit of the Advent Prayer that adds to God’s message, “Listen to me!”
Tell us what you want from us, make us want what you want from us. Do not leave us to ourselves. Do not leave us alone in the darkness of our own making. We are really quite lost. Shine your light in our night.
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