Thursday, December 18, 2014

Reliquishment and Surrender

At our weekly Advent Vespers Tuesday night, we acknowledged something. We are called to be present to the brokenness of the world, to turn our face toward the places of pain and suffering. We are also called to be present to the wonders and beauty of the world, to draw inspiration and delight from them. Celebration is not a luxury but a necessity, a crucial response to both the brokenness and the beauty.

In Luke chapter 1, Mary visits Elizabeth, both pregnant with God's desire, God's interruption of good news into the world. We can imagine their precarious situations. An aged woman trusting that God will see her through the last three months until delivery, trusting that God has interrupted her resignation and cynicism that her childless state would ever change. A young woman, trusting God too, and also a husband who chose to hear God and stand against the cultural and religious expectations of the day to put her away.

What we acknowledge in our Advent Vespers about the necessity of celebration as a crucial response to the brokenness and beauty we see around us led us to ask a question: In the most difficult times, how will we rejoice?

I’m learning to pray the prayers of relinquishment and surrender, as Mary did, as Joseph, Elizabeth and even uncertain Zechariah. I’m learning to understand that be still in “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) means drop what’s in your hands and on your mind.

I’m learning to ask God, like Walter Brueggemann does in this prayer, to occupy my calendar and to exchange my sense of timing for God’s perfect timing. As I pray this prayer, I’m learning to give over my sense of time and timing to God’s kairos—that opportune moment when God interrupts human reality with divine purpose.

Our times are in your hands:
But we count our times for us;
we count our days and fill them with us;
we count our weeks and fill them with our busyness;
we count our years and fill them with our fears.
And then caught up short with your claim,
Our times are in your hands!
Take our times, times of love and times of weariness,
Take them all, bless them and break them,
give them to us again,
slow paced and eager,
fixed in your readiness for neighbor.
Occupy our calendars,
Flood us with itsy-bitsy, daily kairoi,
in the name of your fleshed kairos. Amen.
Walter Brueggemann