Advent Reflection 18: Salvation

Please see Advent Intermission: Disclaimer regarding forthcoming reflections, if you have not yet: click here.


 “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,  he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
     according to your word;
 for my eyes have seen your salvation
     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples” (Lk. 2:25-31). 

Below is a journal entry from Kezek’s first day of kindergarten, dated September 7, 2017, under the heading “Kindergarteners, Heroin Addicts, and the Gods”. It was a day I found myself “waiting for the consolation” Israel was waiting for, a day I found myself longing to see with my own eyes the salvation Simeon saw with his.

This morning I sent off my son to his first day of kindergarten and headed off to work. Upon arrival, I met Pastor Eric retrieving a needle from the roof to add to the cookie jar of despair. The bus is filled with hope and futures, the jar with hopelessness, futures buried alive.

I left this morning watching my son’s mother offering up to God the kind of tears that somehow prove the goodness of the world and the meaningfulness of life. But I wonder about the mother’s tears that are falling to the ground today from a heart that needle has pierced. I wonder, with dread, what it is like to see a child bury his future alive, what it is like to anticipate burying a child dead. How does a mother hang on to hope as she watches her son let it go, when her hope is so bound up in the future of her children

Maybe she couldn’t hold on. Maybe she just couldn’t produce enough tears to fight back the famine claiming her family’s future. Maybe she was fighting alone, no father’s tears wetting her son’s heart, no husband guarding hers. Perhaps her heart, chapped and exposed, over time cracked open with so many sorrows that her soul has fractured into sand. The tears she so faithfully offered up for so many years, alone, never yielded a future in the life on whose behalf she offered them, only more God-damned thorns, only more of that entangling thicket slowly wrapping around her son’s neck, crowning its victory over his future, her future. Her tears never found their way to a Garden. The all-consuming ground is dried up of any goodness, fertility, newness. It’s all just burial ground.

Who among the gods will come to such a world? Let him come.

Who among the gods will come to such a mother? Let him come.

Who among the gods will come to such a son—as a man caught up in the thickets, to wear his crown, to be damned into the desert floor? Who among the gods will come to this world, to be chapped, broken, buried?

For there can be no other world for this mother and her son, so there can be no other God for this world.

 “The wilderness and dry land shall be glad;
     the desert shall rejoice and blossom like wildflowers.
     It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing…
     And they shall see the glory of the Lord,
     the majesty of our God” (Isa. 35)…

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes” (Isa. 61)…

Then so be it. But if this world is not being disposed of and replaced—if it is the wilderness that shall be glad, the desert that shall rejoice, the mourners that shall be comforted, then the glory of God must first be dried up and deserted, must first rain down only in a veil of tears. If Beauty is to rise up from the ashes, it must first be burnt down to the same. But who will come to have his Majesty crowned with a curse, his Highness buried with all futures lost?

For if a new song of rejoicing is ever to arise from the parched ground of this disheartened world, it will have to enter at first in tune with a symphony of sorrows.

Who among the gods is so willing? Who among the gods is there with a heart like that for a world like this, a God of sorrows, Man of sorrows?

Then let Him come. Jesus, come. 

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


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