Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your Son.
By his coming give to all the people of the world knowledge of your salvation.
From Prayer of the Day for Second Sunday of Advent, Common Lectionary
How much we want to pray this prayer, holy and compassionate God. How much we want to have our hearts stirred by the hope and truth of the coming, yet again, of the Christ Child into our world. How much we want to experience your saving grace. But as we look around at that world, the world of your creation, the world of which we are to be loving and careful stewards, the prayers catch in our throats and we are rendered dumb.
How can we pray with joy and hope when yet another mass shooting- the 355th this year- has happened in San Bernadino, California, USA, with 14 of your precious children dead?
How can we pray with joy and hope when more than 200,000 families in Nepal are in dire need and in danger of starvation and disease, as negotiations between the government and ethnic protestors continue to fail, the border is blockaded, and essential supplies cannot get through?
How can we pray with joy and hope when the HIV/AIDS incidence among youth in southeast Asia is climbing at an alarming rate?
How can we pray with joy and hope with bombings in Paris, France and Beirut, Lebanon?
How can we pray with joy and hope when toxic red mud threatens endangered wildlife in Brazil, the result of the collapse of an iron mine dam along the Rio Doce?
How can we pray with joy and hope when refugees from Syria, seeking to escape the never-ending war in that country, are being turned away in so many places?
And yet…and yet…the government of Peru has begun investigations into the forced sterilization of thousands of poor women.
And yet…the environmental summit continues in Paris, France, with 195 countries represented.
And yet…the Department of Veterans Affairs in the United States is finally recognizing that equine therapy is an amazingly effective tool to assist soldiers in coping with PTSD.
And yet, this week, we remembered the anniversary of Rosa Parks’ courageous action on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
And yet a group of faithful women and men in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., are gathering, week after week, to weave discarded plastic grocery bags into mats for the homeless to use for sleeping.
So, God of Love, perhaps the darkness of this Advent season is giving us a time and place to wait…in patience, in hope, for that coming-again time, for that new beginning which you promise and which only you can give. Perhaps this is the time to join our quivering voices in this prayer of tentative hope:
Yeah, okay, so maybe that’s the point, Lord?
Maybe sometimes the miracle begins this time of year,
by growing not fearful but faithful.
The radicals & the reflective & the revolutionaries;
they are the ones on the road, in the fields, on the wall,
pointing to the dawn of the new Kingdom coming,
pointing to the light that breaks through all things broken,
pointing to a redemption always rising & Advent coming again.
Brilliant people don’t deny the dark; they are just the
ones who never stop looking for His light in everything.
And the truth in the hard, heart-breaking place is:
You can’t snuff out hope, you can’t smother out hope,
you can’t stamp out hope – because He is Coming.
And no matter the dark – make us the brave &
brilliant who keep looking for the Light,
the light breaking into the heart-breaking places
& grow us always toward the coming Light.
(Prayer by Ann Voskamp)