Last Sunday was “Christ the King” Sunday, this week we celebrate “Thanksgiving Day,” and this Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent in which we light the candle of hope. I don’t know about you, but I feel the tension of the many symbols and messages that are implied when we declare “Christ is King of my Life,” “Happy Thanksgiving,” and as we adopt a posture of penance and expectation as we start a new Christian Calendar year and the season of Advent.
“Keep awake” is what caught my attention from the Gospel reading for this Sunday. Remember that when Jesus said this, he was close to experiencing the most difficult days in his fully human existence. Jesus was about to be betrayed, denied, unjustly condemned, tortured, and killed.
The invitation to keep awake is an invitation to interrogate our thoughts, our feelings, our behaviors, and our declarations. Even more, to keep awake, is an invitation to interrogate the ways in which we are preparing ourselves to continue sharing the Jesus’ story. The truth is that if we take a look, fully awake, to the ways in which we have received the Jesus’ story, and, consequently, the way we have retold it, we might discover that the story needs to be redeemed.
“Keeping awake” is also an invitation to reflect on what we mean when we declare “Christ is the King of my life.” The reality is that this is a political statement. However, not in the way we often understand politics. Rather, in the way Jesus does, by bringing restoration to systems and structures that are not working and that are oppressive to the “least of these.” How can we redeem our beliefs and deeds so that they truly reflect that Christ is our King?
As I try to adopt a “keeping awake” posture, I have to acknowledge that there is a painful history behind “Thanksgiving Day,” and I need to make sure that I redeem the ways I celebrate it. Therefore, as I celebrate the many blessings I have received from God, I also lament the suffering inflicted on the First Nations people and lament the 1.4+ millions of deaths because of COVID-19 around the world, and the suffering we have inflicted on “the least of these.” What are some ways in which you can redeem your Thanksgiving practices?
Advent is a time of preparation and penance. It is a time to listen and to “Keep awake” in preparation to becoming active and faithful participants in God’s redeeming plan for humanity.
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
80:2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
80:3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
80:4 O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
80:5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.
80:6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.
80:7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
80:17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.
80:18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.
80:19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
If you would like to view past editions of Time with Ismael, follow this link: https://heritagedistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/