Editor’s note: This Advent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
By Andrew K. Lee
Advent is about hope.
When Jeremiah heard these words from God, the yawning chasm of hopelessness was already opening up to swallow his world. Jeremiah was in chains, a political prisoner because King Zedekiah disapproved of Jeremiah’s message of God’s coming judgment. However, even while Jeremiah was imprisoned, the prophecy that had run him afoul of the king began to come true, as the armies of Babylon approached Jerusalem. By the time these words above came to Jeremiah (verses 1-13 tell us), the streets of the city were desolate, as many of the townspeople had already fled. The city itself was in ruins, as many of the houses had been pulled down in a desperate attempt to make defense-works against the imminent invasion. And Jeremiah knew that further waves of death and destruction were about to strike; he had already prophesied that the Babylonians would fill the city with the bodies of the dead.
And yet… in the midst of a world falling apart, God promised that someday–and the days are surely coming–everything would be made right. Justice and righteousness would be established in the land, and safety and peace would replace the horrors of violence and war.
And this is still the hope for which we wait. So many years after Jeremiah, in Advent in the Year of our Lord 2015, our world, too, shows many signs of falling apart. I write this devotion in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Bamako, while entire nations of refugees seek asylum from violence. In response to these crises, fearmongering and demagoguery stalk our own land. Meanwhile, here in California we remain in a devastating drought, as if Earth herself is dying beneath us. If the terrorists–or our violent responses to terrorism–do not destroy us, our own devastation of the environment and the consequent climate change just might. Advent this year could easily be a time of hopelessness and despair.
But Advent is about hope, because we await the promised righteous Branch, who will save us from ourselves and put all things to right. The days are surely coming when no one will turn to terrorism and no one will need to become a refugee, when we will put aside all talk of hatred and fear and we will no longer resort to violence. In those days, justice and righteousness will be established in the land. The days are surely coming when we will no longer be a danger to ourselves or our planet. In those days, we will be saved and will live in safety. In those days, God will make all things right, and we will call ourselves “The LORD is our righteousness” — “The LORD is our new reality in which all things are just the way they should be.”
This Advent, as always, that is the hope for which we wait. Even as the world seems to be falling apart around us, let us live that hope, serving others and offering hope to our neighbors in joyful anticipation of God’s remaking of the world. The days are surely coming.
Andrew K. Lee is a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary and a current doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.