Advent | Day 15
20 Sunday, December 11
- Psalms 63.1-8, 98, 103
- Amos 9.11-15
- 2 Thessalonians 2.1-3, 13-17
- John 5.30-47
There is a pond near my home. I passed it frequently over the summer months, and on each sunny day, I would see a community of turtles sunning themselves on a half submerged log. Little turtles sat on top of bigger turtles, and every square inch of the log was inhabited. I usually slowed to look at them, because they brought me some joy.
One afternoon as I was driving near the pond, I saw a turtle attempting to cross the road. I turned around at the next side road and drove back believing that I would help the turtle to safety. I was incredulous to see the smashed turtle in the road because only a minute or two had passed at most. How could someone already have run over this helpless turtle? Was it done intentionally? Was a driver really that careless? I have thought of this moment from time to time. It doesn’t frequently occupy my thoughts and it did not ruin the beauty I found in turtles sunning on their log. The turtles continued to congregate there the rest of the summer, and I expect that they will do the same next year. This incident though, strangely enough, did come to mind when I was reading the Psalms.
In Psalm 98, the connection that exists among all forms of life is recognized. All of nature, the sea and the hills—even turtles maybe— sing praises of joy at the presence of the Lord, the Lord who is coming to judge the earth with righteousness and equity. There is decisive recognition that all belongs to the Lord and beauty is recognized as an indication of the Lord’s steadfast love.
What of the smashed turtle I saw on the road? Is all life like this? In Psalm 103, we are reminded that our days are like grass; the wind will pass over and we will be no more. What is there to praise about this? Just as in Psalm 98, we are told that our comfort lies in the steadfast love of the Lord. The Lord that judges is also merciful, gracious, abounding in love, slow to anger and compassionate. This Lord that knows that our lives are fleeting, like dust, has eternal love for us and for all of creation.
At Advent, we remember the love of the Lord expressed in the coming of Christ. In the grand scheme of things, our lives are as brief as that of an adventurous turtle, trying to cross a road on a summer afternoon. We are reminded by the Psalms that our lives are important and beautiful, even if brief and even if tragedy sometimes strikes. Our lives matter to our Creator and we should praise our Creator and take pleasure in our being alive. This Advent season, sun yourself on a log and sing, because the Lord loves us eternally and Christ’s coming is a revelation of that love. Incarnation is beauty; love is everlasting.
Associate Professor, School of Religion
You can access an online version of the 2011 Advent Guide (presented annually be Belmont’s School of Religion) at: http://issuu.com/office.communications/docs/2011_advent_guide#download