Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent
7 December 2014
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
The Season of Advent has always been for me a time for both deep reflection and eager anticipation. The Advent themes of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace provide weekly opportunities for Christians to prepare our whole selves (body, mind, and spirit) for fulfillment of the promise that Christ will come at Christmas.
The second week of Advent invites us to reflect upon Love. Love given and love received. Many of us experience love most profoundly in and through our bodies, and so we reflect now on the body in its physical rather than its emotional form.
I am very aware of my physical body. I know how my body feels to me — every nerve, muscle, and organ. I do not know how the various bits and pieces of the body actually work, yet I am grateful for the fact that my body still functions in a way that supports my intention to live a quality life for as long as I can. Though it was not always true for me, I can say today that I love my body and that my body loves me.
At the same time, my mind keeps me aware that this body is living in interesting times. Experiencing love in a body is not all about the body giving or receiving “love and light” all of the time. The world is far too complex for such simplistic thinking.
For instance, I am an American-born 66-year-old same-gender-loving Christian woman of African, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Irish descent moving in the world as a spiritual leader among a diverse global community. The skin covering this older intercultural powerful lesbian body is Black. As such, it holds the cellular memory of what it has long meant to be Black in America. At the same time, I know that the color of my skin alone does not define all of me. Indeed, I recognize that this Black body occupies some positions of power and privilege.
In my spirit, I know that I am not alone in having an awareness of such individual complexity. Many people have a first-hand experience of what it is to live as the victim of someone else’s bias and also what it is to be biased against and to victimize others. A lot of people know what it is to be told in subtle and blatant ways that our lives do not matter; we also know that we do things to show that we devalue another’s life. Every day, many of us pray for the extra portion of grace that is required to survive when you are the embodiment of other people’s fears even as we pray for protection from those that we fear.
|(Photo: Twitter @rebeccarivas)|
We are all in this complex life together — queers, straight folks, women, and children; native peoples and immigrants; peoples of color and white people; people with disabilities, people of all nations, people of different faiths and of no faith at all; the rich and poor, the elderly and those who are ill; those of all colors, beliefs, and persuasions. It does not matter who we are, how our bodies appear, or the level or cause of our fears. Each of us is called to figure out how to love ourselves and one another.
We must figure this thing out. Indeed, the very survival of humanity requires that we gain comfort through our co-existence as God’s beloved people. What might such comfort look like? To me, comfort looks a whole lot like justice and mercy, justice that is freely given and mercy that is not denied. The kind of comfort of which I speak comes from reconciliation, not retribution. It comes out of desire, not demand. As for me, I look forward with eager anticipation to the day when all God’s people will live in such comfort in body, mind, and spirit.
Though some people cannot get along today, the good news for all of us is in knowing that our world and the quality of our relationships with one another really can get better. Actually, Christ comes just a little closer each time we choose to reject fear and instead embrace Advent’s promise of hope, love, joy, and peace prevailing among God’s people. That is all we need for Christmas. May it be so!