Week 1 of Advent | Christy Ridings

Saturday, December 8

Psalms 20, 21.1-7, 110.1-7, 116, 117
Isaiah 4.2-6
Luke 21.5-19
1 Thessalonians 4.13-18

At the end of last year, my dear friend received a liver transplant. The ten years prior were filled with doctors, job changes, new homes, progressions and regressions with her illness and very few constants in her life. When the call came that a liver had been located and that it was indeed a match, within a matter of hours her life was changed. Hope was given.

Since the transplant, my friend has found herself recovering both physically and mentally. She is relearning her abilities and has begun to process the many emotional aspects of a chronic illness. Part of this process, for her, has been to consider how she can/should respond to those who played a part in her journey. What could she possibly say to the doctor who walked with her for a decade? How could she convey her sense of gratitude to the surgical team who dedicated themselves to finding the right liver? What could be expressed to the family of the donor who had given a gift at such a high price? Even now, a year later, the words and sentiments get lost for her. They are insufficient for the task they are meant to accomplish. She is left to live her response until her words are able to catch up.

Today we read the psalmist responding in much the same way: searching for the words to express gratitude to God for God’s goodness and mercy, recounting the numerous ways God’s actions and character altered his life’s trajectory, and offering his life for what has been given to him. The Advent season finds many of us in this place. Our hearts and minds are left searching for the proper response to the hope we have been given. We become overwhelmed with the insufficiency of expressions this season often brings and choose instead to leave the magnitude of what has been given to us unexamined. We bury it under the more tangible articulations and sentiments that come easy to us.

My prayer for this season of preparation is that instead of opting out, we simply choose to live our response until our words are able to catch up. I pray that we feel the weight of our gratitude fully and that we live into the knowledge of what has been done for us. I am reminded by my friend, that this kind of living is a silent response. It allows us to breathe in deeply our recognition and exhale fully our gratitude. It leaves us hopeful and expectant and often it is only in these moments that the words we have been longing for be found.

Christy Ridings
Associate University Minister

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

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