Light your candle every time you pray in Advent. You may need to get more candles. That would be great. This common practice will unite us in the darkening days. Shine your light on social media using #HowWeHope as often as you need to feel the connection. You are not alone. The Lord is near. We are near.
Today’s Bible reading
Read Psalm 6
I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
More thoughts for meditation
This is the Season of Promise
Let the bells be silenced
Let the gifts be stillborn
Let the cheer be muted
Let the music be soundless
Violence stalks the land:
Soaring above the city of the dying
Rising above the whimper of the starving
Floating above the flying machines of death
Listen to the long stillness:
New life is stirring
New dreams are on the wing
New hopes are being readied:
[Hu]mankind is fashioning a new heart
[Hu]mankind is forging a new mind
God is at work.
This is the Season of Promise.
— Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations
Distraction is an easy substitute for hope. In the discomfort of grief and anger, distraction is very tempting. Sometimes distraction is necessary, but lament is rarely called for by anything but your heart. Distraction is pedaled and applauded by almost all. Lament is only lauded by alternative communities who know it’s power. Our ancestors in faith show us the power of lament all throughout the Bible. Let us listen to the long stillness. In the silenced, stillborn, muted, soundless darkness of Advent newer hope starts stirring in hearts and minds being made new.
Suggestions for action
Join us today for The Lamentations of Right Now if you are reading this early enough and available at 8:30 am. Details for the Zoom call at circleofhope.net/advent
Write your own Psalm of Lament like Psalm 6.
A psalm of lament is one way the ancients practiced being present in a world where oppression and violence reigned. Writing our own psalm of lament can help us name the reality of suffering but help us get to the deeper reality of our hope.
There is no right way to do this. None of it is wrong. Prayer is prayer. God hears it all and receives it all. God is big enough to hold our lament, our emotions and the conflicts we feel in ourselves. God is not conflicted or bound in our conflicts.
In the Psalms, prayers of lament often have 5 parts:
- Address: Naming God as the addressee
- Complaint: Describing the experience of suffering (how it feels and less about exactly what happened). Sometimes God is blamed for the suffering. This doesn’t necessarily prevent the psalmist from also asking God to deliver from the suffering.
- Request: Petitioning God to deliver the Psalmist from suffering and/or enemies
- Remembering God’s Faithfulness: Remembering how God has been faithful in the past and expressing trust that God will act/is acting on “my” behalf.
- Vow of Praise: Vowing to offer praise and sacrifice to God when deliverance is accomplished (usually future tense, something that is not yet complete, pointing toward something not yet accomplished)