JUSTICE FOR GOD’S WORLD
Advent reminds us that God’s light shines in the world
By Vernon S. Broyles III | Presbyterians Today
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” — Revelation 21:1–4
How long, O Lord? It is more than interesting that this refrain of anguish permeates what we Christians call our “Holy Scriptures.” It is the refrain over and over of the people of God. No matter how often we join the people of faith in the Old Testament and the followers of Jesus in the New Testament in praising God’s faithfulness, we have tended to lapse into despair when the inevitable calamities of life best us.
For most of us, no time has been more threatening than the one we face today. Whatever other dangers we face individually and collectively, they tend to pale alongside the invisible terror of COVID-19 — an enemy that we cannot see, that employs numerous plans of attack on a person’s body, and that we still must face without adequate defenses. The situation is exacerbated by the arrogance of those who try to discount it, infecting themselves and others. The virus’ terror reigns even more greatly among the poor, people of color, prisoners and the ill and infirm who are often housed in crowded facilities.
As if that were not enough, millions have been rendered jobless and homeless by the impact that the global pandemic is having on our economy, and our political representatives are more inclined to quarrel than to render aid to the poor. At a time when we hope for collaboration among the nations, the strong continue to lord their privileges over the weak. Where do we go from here?
We start by remembering that this is not the first time the people of the world have faced disaster and death. There have always been places across the globe where poverty, war and disease have ravaged communities. Ironically, for us Christians, we are now moving into the holy season of Advent — a season that invites us to walk unafraid in the darkness with hope that Jesus, the promised light of God — the one the world cannot extinguish — will shine brightly upon us once again. How will we prepare to worship in celebration of the one we call Lord? How will we seek to hold on to hope amid despair? What will we do with this baby that was seen as a threat to Israel’s leaders and who, even as he lived and died, posed a threat to political powers of his day?
Whether the dangers we face are from disease, our own government or even from our own biases and prejudices, let us shout to the Prince of Peace who was born in poverty among us. Let us celebrate the one who comes not sitting on an earthly throne, but who will grow up to ride on a donkey on the way to his death — a death that will redeem all who believe.
Vernon S. Broyles III is a volunteer for public witness in the PC(USA)’s Office of the General Assembly.
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