Praying for Transformation
The texts for Sunday, December 9,2012 (Advent 2C): Baruch 5:1–9; Luke 1:68–79; Philippians 1:3–11; and Luke 3:1–6.
“Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.” – Baruch 5:1
I’ve come to the realization that I just don’t really want to talk about this because it’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to realize that as we wait for God to be fully revealed in the world … as we wait for the in-breaking of God’s redemption and grace and salvation … as we wait for this promised world where so many of the wrongs that we see will be made right, so many of the injustices that we see will be made just, so much of the brokenness that we see will be healed … as we wait for the whole world to change … there is this uncomfortable realization that we will change too.
Look, I know I’m not perfect. I know I have lots that could change and a lot of stuff that I would like to change (even if I have some trouble changing it). I know that I need to change. I even want to change. I know that the refiner’s fire could be a good thing for me—the intense fire of God’s love and holiness burning out the stuff that is really worthless. But, here’s the thing: I know me now. And even if I don’t entirely like the “garment of sorrow and affliction,” those clothes are kinda comfortable in that familiar, too-many-holes-to-wear-in-public kind of way. While I know intellectually that the “beauty of the glory from God” is infinitely better than what I’ve currently got going, it’s unfamiliar and because of that, it’s uncomfortable.
I know that I’m not alone in this—I see it all the time. Every time I see this community make a step forward or look to something new, I see people falling back on their familiar habits of negativity and frustration and fear. Every time I see this town attempt a new project that might straighten some crooked places or heal something severely damaged, I hear a familiar chorus of “It’s never going to work. Nothing’s going to change.” Every time I see this country attempt to move forward with actions of justice and peace, I see people slide into the familiar divisive rhetoric of partisan politics and antique, empty labelling. Familiar garments of sorrow and affliction, indeed. Worn with holes, but so comfortable as to feel like they are part of our very skin.
I guess part of the challenge and call of Advent is to work on taking those garments off—to recognize that they are not our skin and that they can come off—to open ourselves up to change. I guess that is part of the work of waiting: coming to terms with the fact that everything—even ourselves—is going to change. I suppose the good news in all of that is that everything—even ourselves—is going to change (even if we’re bad at changing ourselves—this is God’s work after all). And even while it is uncomfortable, it is so amazingly good, too. I mean—God is coming (always coming) into the world. The beauty of the glory from God is breaking into this world. How can that not be a incredibly good thing? And so, I take a deep breath, light another candle, and pray to be transformed.
On an unexpected note: I decided to title this post “Praying for Transformation” and was “informed” by the permalink generator that I’d already titled a post that … I suppose it makes sense that I should continue to pray for transformation. I think the posts, while quite different, are sort of related. Check out my other reflection on Praying for Transformation
Featured Image: Photo by Maria Gar. View her Flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/staygoldddd/