Wait for the Lord 04 – Set us Free

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Advent, Evil, Nouwen

I have used this statue more than a few times in my pictures but it seemed especially appropriate tonight. Nouwen’s devotion is a “positive” one – looking back on the memory of Christ’s birth enables us to look forward to the progress of the fulfillment of his kingdom…by looking back in meditation I can look forward in expectation. He closes with these words…”I pray that Advent will offer me the opportunity to deepen my memory of God’s great deeds in time and will set me free to look forward with courage to the fulfillment of time by who came and is still to come.”

I desperately want to take these words and take comfort in them, but I feel a lament in this night and in these words. I have been doing an experiment this week that I started on Sunday afternoon. I decided I would try to go a week without checking CNN.com, reading news sites, listening to NPR, etc. It had been going well until today when a member of the church I serve told me before our dinner this evening about the shooting in California. My heart just sank as I shared that I had not heard about it as yet. I have since read a few articles and have seen many postings from friends on Facebook about it. Another senseless, brutal, evil shooting – this time in California. The same platitudes offered by politicians who have the power to do something about this – “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” How long? How long? How long?

Nouwen calls us to look back in order to look ahead to what will be in the past. How many of these acts do we have to see before we realize that the actions we are taking (or choosing to not take) are not making a difference?

How long? How long? How long?

Nouwen quotes the words of Isaiah 25:7-8 which say:

And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations,
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.
– Isaiah 25:7-8

I read that and I want to ask again…how long? How long? How long?

How long must we wait until we wake up to the reality that we have created for ourselves around us? How many have to die in these senseless acts before people are willing to take action and recognize that there are steps we can take to curb this? How long? How long? How long?

As I write this, I feel like this statue – I feel that I am pleading before the Lord, pleading before others and yet I feel a measure of powerlessness not only for myself but a powerlessness in a larger sense of how it seems we are choosing to simply not even intervene to try to change this brutal reality around us.

How long? How long? How long?

Tonight, I go to bed pleading before the Lord…show me, show us, show the world that the hands that we have been given to do something about this senseless evil. Give us the courage to use those hands in the letters we write to leaders, in the votes that we will cast in the year ahead, in the lives that we will try to reach, in the brokenness that we will seek to mend, in the pain that we work to heal, in the hope that we can offer through what Christ has done.

How long? How long? How long?

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

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