Week 1 of Advent | Judy Skeen

Wednesday, December 5

Psalms 12, 13, 14, 119.1-24
Isaiah 2.1-11
Luke 20.19-26
1 Thessalonians 2.13-20

Momentum used technically has a particular formula for determining its force. Momentum in human experience is a bit more subtle but no less powerful. The psalmist speaks of the momentum some have toward lying and tyrannizing others. In the gospel reading there is clear momentum of the forces that would claim the life of Jesus. When asked to clarify a point of law, Jesus demonstrates what opposing the coming of the kingdom of God looks like. Thessalonians gives witness to the multiplied power of following in the footsteps of the faithful, who have walked the same path before us, who have chosen over and over to be in the presence of God. There is even witness to the homesickness that sets in over time when those who know us are at a distance from us.

This fall on our campus we’ve been pondering civility in all its forms and what the absence of it might be costing each of us. Eugene Peterson has spent some time dusting off words that have become familiar. His version of Ps.12.6 says: God’s words are pure words, pure silver words refined seven times in the fires of his word-kiln (The Message). This verse caught my attention in the context of our campus conversation about civility.

Words have the power to destroy, to discourage, to welcome, and to spur on. What if the momentum of our words was fired in our imaginations in service to the force that brings life, hope and the warmth of compassion? What if instead of voicing the first or easiest thoughts we crafted words that could bring welcome and possibility?

The psalmist shows that there is clear need to let out the dark mess that swirls around inside of us at times, letting it out so it has no power to spring out when least expected or wanted. What might momentum have to do with this kind of mental and emotional discipline? The psalmist also speaks of a day when people and nations will move toward God as a river. Let’s start the flow now, let’s join the momentum toward civility, compassion and words that have been kiln dried before spoken.

Judy Skeen
Professor, School of Religion

To download a digital copy of the 2012 Advent Guide, put out by Belmont’s School of Religion, click here.

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