The Weary World (Advent 2020)
"Hi, Hannah?" my doctor said when he called me this morning, sounding weary and apologetic. "Your test came back positive."
Aside from feeling like I have a sinus infection -- which is not surprising, as the weather in western Pennsylvania has been jumping up and down all through the fall -- I've felt fine. Well, aside from that and the growing craziness as we go on week three of quarantining at home.
We're thankful, still, that we knew almost immediately after coming home from Thanksgiving that we had been exposed to covid. (Something about our housemate not being able to smell or taste anything was a significant tipoff.) We're thankful to get to make sure that we don't spread it, especially since many in our congregation are older, and one of our ministry team members has plenty of respiratory complications without any additional virus. We're thankful that my jobs aren't impacted by me needing to stay at home, and that Jason has a job to go back to. There are plenty of, no shortage of, solid reasons to give thanks to the One who created and sustains us.
Yet my overall feeling right now is a weary sadness. I'm tired of not seeing friends, of being mostly confined to our house, of trying to make backup plans with no guarantee that everything won't change again, of not being able to take a break from the pandemic to just go get coffee and a donut without worrying about it.
In his version of the Christmas carol O Holy Night, John Sullivan Dwight wrote, The weary world rejoices. "Weary" seems to me like one of the most apt descriptions of the current state of the world, all of us tired and worn ragged by the complications of the pandemic, by personal hardships, by the sharp edges of this year.
Last year I wrote about Advent being a time of rejoicing and lamenting. This year, the lament feels a little deeper, the rejoicing a little fainter and harder to grasp. Yet as we enter into the grief of creation at its brokenness, we long for the return of the King who will make all things well. This is a season for learning to be kinder to everyone around us, I think, as we perhaps have a newfound awareness that everyone (EVERYONE) is facing profound difficulty and disappointment as they move through their lives.
Astoundingly, it's this world -- this very one, where viruses spread out of control, where neighbors can't seem to hear each other's hearts over the roar of their political allegiances, where technological glitches happen with frustrating regularity and kids get shot and families fall apart and promises are broken -- that the King chose to enter into.
Since the Behold the Lamb of God concert, I've been listening to that album over and over (yes, I hear songs from it when I wake up in the middle of the night...), anchoring my heart in the truth that we get to
Sing out with joy for the brave little boy
Who was God, but he made himself nothing.
What a wonder.