Hold on just a little while longer, Hold on just a little while longer, Hold on just a little while longer. Everything will be alright, Pray on… Sing on… Fight on… Everything will be alright…
As we move towards Christmas and the climax of the Advent season, I am reminded of the words of this old spiritual. “Hold On” has an unknown origin, yet has been sung by persons of African decent in this country for a long time. African Americans in this country embodied these words as they lived through slavery, segregation, and the fight against these things. All for a desire to be seen as people of worth and dignity in the eyes of their fellow humans, all of this carried by hope. Hope that things will get better, that freedom would come. This Sunday we will read from Luke’s telling of the Gospel Story. In the part of God’s story that we will read and celebrate this week, we will hear the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She proclaims the hope of her people and the hope that is to come in Jesus, the Messiah saying,
" the Mighty One has done great things for me…His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
These are not just the words of what Jesus will do, a word about the entirety of God’s faithfulness to humanity even as we turn away. Even as we leave God, God’s steadfast love remains for us. This narrative lasts from creation to new creation yet to come. Advent is a time of this. The idea that God has done mighty acts of salvation in the past, is doing mighty acts of salvation now in and among us, and has yet to do many mighty acts of salvation to come. Christ was born. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. It is a time of hope. Advent is a time when that hope almost appears real. During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of forgiveness, salvation, and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming. Christ Jesus is our hope. That even though we find ourselves and the world enslaved to sin, death, violence, and the pursuit of power and possessions…the One who can free us from all of these “will come again in glory” as the Nicene Creed proclaims. This is Good News for us, especially as those called to be a people of hope! We too like the Israelites, hope for God to remember us too to act now in this world as in ages past. This is because we know, that God is already at work in the world in the Holy Spirit. The task for us is to not simply wait but work in hopeful expectation of the Resurrected Christ. We are not called to hide our light under a bushel. Perhaps someday we shall see Jesus come in his glory, but that should not be the prize that we eye. We should look at those around us who are desperate for hope. That hope can be found in many forms, whether in a hot meal for the hungry, a kind word for the sad, or a more peaceful and just world. Yes, we wait, but our hope is not an excuse for us to sit and do nothing. Rather it is a reason for us to get up and do something in this world and for this world. For we know that God will not abandon humanity, but will yet again remember us as in ages past.
Peace in the name of the Coming Christ,
Will, Ed, and the FUMC Staff