Lent & Advent

Advent 2021: A Season Of Healing And Hope – November 29

Jim Hopkins

November 28, 2021

Advent Train

Daniel Pryfogle
(Daniel Pryfogle is an LABC minister-at-large and cofounder of the multifaith community Sympara)

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn us back to dust,
    and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
For a thousand years in your sight
    are like yesterday when it is past,
    or like a watch in the night.

You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning;
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.

For we are consumed by your anger;
    by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    our years come to an end like a sigh.
10 The days of our life are seventy years,
    or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.

11 Who considers the power of your anger?
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
12 So teach us to count our days
    that we may gain a wise heart.

13 Turn, O Lord! How long?
    Have compassion on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be manifest to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and prosper for us the work of our hands—
    O prosper the work of our hands!

Psalm 90 (NRSV)

The Advent story comes to us like a train on a loop. Every year it pulls into the station right on time. If we are paying attention, if we are in the mode of preparing for the season, if we want to take the trip again, we get on board.

We are experienced travelers. We know the benefit of packing light, for we want to move through the crowds with ease, and we want room in our packs to hold the season’s gifts. Some presents are the past, memories of the loop. Some gifts are the present. All of these require space, though not all are heavy.

We are experienced travelers. We take the window seat. There is something we want to see this time around. Here we can view the outside and behold the inside. We are curious.

Who is this passenger seated next to us? Daisy Funderburk, is that you? Did she just say this is her thousandth time around? How can that be?

The experienced traveler knows the days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong. Even the most aware among us will only catch the train half the time, so what’s that — 35 or 40 Advents? The calendar flies away whether we board the train or not, and whether we stay on board or disembark.

She leans toward us with a sparkle in her eyes. Is she preparing to say something? She adjusts her hearing aid. Is she waiting for us to say something? She lifts her hand and with a sweeping gesture illuminates the car.

We can see the other passengers now. They are all here, every single one of them. Their faces shine with expectation. They lean forward as on pews, anticipating what’s next.

We have embarked. The route is familiar yet already surprising. Our traveling companions welcome our delight. They make this train a dwelling place. This time around, we will stay for a while.