I wrote this for my former church in Waco, Lake Shore Baptist Church’s Advent Devotional book. The theme for the year is On Earth Peace… Here is what I came up with:
All evidence to the contrary…
There’s so much evidence to the contrary, isn’t there?
And I’m not just talking about the overwhelming, mind-numbing, tragic realities of civil war, famine, modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Which is not to gloss over these overwhelming, mind-numbing, tragic realities. It’s merely to admit that in the midst of our own all-too-human realities of sickness, of temptations toward despair, of broken relationships, of the hard work of healing relationships, of keeping our head above water – it becomes awfully difficult to maintain some grasp of the holy in the midst of it all. It could be just me and my penchant toward the melancholy, but some weeks it seems more like I’m reading a script about redemption and reconciliation than promising something powerful, and eternal – something real.
There is just so much evidence to the contrary – evidence that distracts away from all the sacred reality – would I really know peace, grace, hope if it smacked me in the face?
Which makes Advent so difficult, right? In the midst of perhaps the busiest season culturally, we’re to proclaim and rest in peace, patience, Incarnation. In the midst of party-planning and party-attending, shopping, decorating, cookie making and cookie eating, we’re also supposed to sit in the darkness and find the light that leads to a baby.
In spite of all evidence to the contrary – evidence the church certainly participates in and contributes to – we find ourselves in the midst of a season of rest, of peace, but also of restless anticipation. Not anticipation for stuff, for gifts, for large meals, for catalog-worthy decorations. But anticipation for an event, a God, that comes despite all evidence to the contrary.
My surprise each year, as busy-ness always seems to find me, as obligations and schedules and logistics present themselves as most important, is that God shows up. Somewhere in the midst of it all, God shows up – all evidence in my own life to the contrary. God still shows up. As a baby – whimpering, helpless, vulnerable. God still shows up – an in-breaking of light in the midst of the surrounding darkness. God still shows up – in the peace that passes all understanding. To be sure, this peace must pass all understanding, because how could we understand peace breaking through our very human chaos?
Despite all evidence to the contrary the power of the Incarnation – the audacity of our claim that God Is With Us – despite all evidence to the contrary we continue to proclaim the abiding truth of God’s deep and perfect hope, joy, peace and love. And despite all our evidence to the contrary God’s deep and perfect hope, joy, peace, and love will meet us this Advent.