Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: exile

Sermon: Yearning and Hoping

No More Fussing

candles_9826cRead Isaiah 35:1-10.

When was the last time you got impatient? Was it at the store, standing in that long check-out line? Was it sitting in traffic, wondering why the light is green and nobody is moving? Was with your children, or with your parents?

This time of year, especially, I think we are more prone to get impatient. We are rushing and hurrying along to get everything in order. There are presents to be bought or ordered, presents to be wrapped, travel plans to be made, meals to be cooked, and on top of all that, because vacation time is coming, our work load seems to increase. And whenever we finally have a few moments of rest, there is someone or something that beckons our attention, and impatience sets in. And we fuss.

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel*

nativity_13156bcOne of my favorite Advent hymns is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.  We sang a few verses the other Sunday (July 14) in worship.  I know it seems strange to be singing a Christmas carol in the middle of July.  But, hey, why not?

We sing it during Advent and Christmas because we are awaiting the arrival of the Christ-child to be born in our midst.  The Christ-child who was born in a barn, with no fanfare likely deserved for the One who will save all of humanity.  Much like Clark Kent, Jesus’ birth and arrival on planet Earth, went mostly unnoticed.  And yet, the hymn is calling for God to dwell among humanity.

I once heard a trio sing it at a concert acapella, which is when I paid so much more attention to the words.  Ever since then it has been one of my favorites.  When we sing this hymn we are asking for Emmanuel – God With Us – Jesus Christ – to “ransom captive” those in “lonely exile” and to “disperse the gloomy clouds of night.”

There are individuals and families right here in Lynchburg who are not able to meet the basic needs for their families, put a basic meal together, or have seasonally appropriate clothing.   They are “captive” to poverty, living in “lonely exile” and in the midst of “gloomy clouds.” Peakland partners with ministries like Lynchburg Daily Bread, Rivermont Food Pantry, and Park View Community Mission (and others!) who are working to release the captive, feed the hungry, and shine on the gloomy clouds.

My hope is that your prayer – our prayer – will be “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  Come, God With Us, and dwell among us as we strive to love others, release the captive, feed the hungry, and shine Light on the gloomy clouds.  Amen.

*This first appeared as a From the Deacon column at Peakland United Methodist. 

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