Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Herald of Good Tidings

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”
-Isaiah 40:9

My friend and seminary colleague Zach recently wrote a reflection on Advent as a time of entering into the dark of nighttime and discovering God’s presence there just as much as in the light of daytime. He concludes:

“While the rest of the world squirms in the darkness seeking out the light, take comfort during this Advent season that God is active and present in this world, even though it may be dark.”

I think Zach is right. Here in Mexico, where I’ve been living and studying for the last five months, I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s activity in places where I am full of doubt and fear, whether they are light or dark. Last month I visited Acteal, the site of a massacre of more than forty-five mostly women and children only a decade ago. The horrors of what happened there were overwhelming.

Yet every month, the survivors of Acteal gather to remember the victims. They speak their names aloud and declare their continued presence among the living. They take a page from Isaiah and on a high mountain (literally) they lift up their voices with strength and announce the dawn of a new world, a world of justice and of peace, a world of hope and of love.

It takes a radical faith to declare that such a world can possibly be born at a time when most of us have grown too weary and wary of hope to believe it. But in Advent, a time Melissa Etheridge calls “the season of change,” we remember – and we announce – that God is, against all odds, bringing about that very birth.

Last week Amnesty International released a song called “The Price of Silence,” highlighting just how powerful our announcing voices can be. “Raise your voices to the sky,” sing the different artists in their different languages. “The price of silence is much too high.”

Isaiah, I think, would agree. So let us raise our voices this Advent season. Let us be the signs of what God is bringing to birth, little by little, every day.

Prayer: God of hope, in a world that considers poverty, injustice, and violence to be normal, give us the strength to be your “herald of good tidings” announcing the birth of Your new world.

Make your Advent faith active in love: Lift up your voice by signing Amnesty International’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.