So what can I be grateful for in the past 24 hours?
Mitch, who steadily calls me back from worry, from ignoring my own life, and from dictating what is possible.
In his sermon, recalling the Advent story of Zachariah and Elizabeth, Mitch said that it didn’t take Zachariah long to play the card of impossibility, to offer God a reality check when confronted with the news that he would soon have a son (Luke 1). Zachariah was afraid and silenced. Some of us think we know all too well what is possible, or not, and even what can or needs to happen.
I do that. Many times, I act like it is my job to sort out what might and can happen in the situation before me, thus deciding what is possible or not in my own life. Mitch’s Advent question is still with me:
How do we prepare ourselves to again birth the impossible into our lives and into our world?
One lesson from Zachariah’s story might be to dedicate more time for silent waiting. Maybe not being able to speak out loud was a gift for Zachariah. For me, that silence also includes quelling the voices in my head where I offer my own version of what is possible in my real world.
Walter Bruggeman proposes another tactic in his advent study. He calls my attention to the poetry of Isaiah 65:17-19 and the possibility of newness found in these verses. In response to this audacious possibility, he says,
The new world of God is beyond our capacity and even beyond our imagination. It does not seem possible. In our fatigue, our self-sufficiency, and our cynicism, we deeply believe that such promises could not happen here. Such newness is only poetic fantasy.
For me, I know that things don’t always turn out all right and at the same time, there are turns of events that I notice only after I’ve lost my way.
Cynthia Bourgeault says that synchronicity—a kind of miracle I most often experience—is the by-product of surrender, not the main event.
To more deeply hear and surrender to God what is possible, I might do what Walter Bruggeman suggests, to read and re-read this poem in Isaiah to let it seep into my bones and heart and vision. As I read and re-read, I began to re-write the poem to hear God’s words in my own heart.
For I am about to create
new reality for you.
The former things you fear will
not be in the forefront or
readily come to mind.
Be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create this new way of seeing as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in the newness
and delight in my family.
No more will fear be my dwelling place.
Me, adapted from Isaiah 65: 17 -19
The poem in Isaiah is outrageous, Bruggeman says, and mine is too. I am not the one who decides or orchestrates what is possible, in my life or anyone else’s. Bruggeman reminds me where this power rests.
In Advent, however, we receive the power of God that is beyond us. This power is the antidote to our fatigue and cynicism. It is the gospel resolution to our spent self-sufficiency, when we are at the edge of our coping. It is good news that will overmatch our cynicism that imagines there is no new thing that can enter our world.
My cynicism is rooted in fear, where I decide what is possible. For this day, may I live in the outrageous possibility of the power of God to prepare me to again birth the impossible into my life and into our world.