Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advent VII

She was homeless, but not nameless.  There was nothing invisible about her.  Each day she could be seen walking through downtown pushing a grocery store shopping cart that was filled up over the top.  Half the year she spent with us in Perry; the other half she spent with folks in Tifton.  Since there was only one of her and many of us, she became the "official homeless person" who received more than cursory attention from the comfortable ones of the community.  One morning the custodian came into the office saying that she had broken into the building and spent the night in the warmer fellowship hall of the church.  When asked, she replied, "If ya'll hadn't left the door unlocked, I couldn't come in, so it's not my fault, but yours that I spent the night in here."

As I read one of the Old Testament lessons for early Advent (Isaiah 63:16-64:8), I remembered the words of repentance spoke long years ago in that church kitchen.  At first glance it might seem that the passage contains words of repentance on the part of the exiled Hebrews, but a closer read reveals a spirit not so different from the spirit of Adam in the Garden of Eden or us in our moments of accountability.  The Hebrews cry out to God, "...because You hid Yourself we one calls on Your name...because You have hidden Your face from us..."  As Adam blamed Eve, the exiled Hebrews blamed God.

It is what we do best.  When confronted by the reality of our own disobedience, we hunt someone else to blame.  We blame our parents who failed us.  We blame our friends who let us down.  We blame the tough circumstances of our life.  We even blame God who could have made things happen differently.  We want to do everything but say, "Lord, I am sinner.  It is me who has sinned.  I messed up.  Please, Lord, have mercy."    As Advent calls us to get ready for the One who is coming, nothing takes the place of honesty.  And, nothing will take the place of His mercy.

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