Advent Reflection | Wednesday: Psalm 80, Jeremiah 13.1-27, Luke 1.26-38

From: Katie Van Zanen

Most mornings, I wake up and read the New York Times daily briefing. It may not be a great habit– I begin my day reading all the ways in which justice has been denied. Ongoing investigations of treason at the highest levels of our government. Revelations of sexual assault by leaders we trusted. Pronouncements that lead to protests, trauma, and death. And then there’s the natural disasters: hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, and floods, exacerbated by our environmental irresponsibility. We, God’s people, are “accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).

I know Luke 1 is more seasonal, but I’m in the weeds of Jeremiah and Psalm 80 right now. We don’t deserve it, but I’m busy asking God to come save us. And when things keep happening and happening, it feels like he’s not coming: “God, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?” (Psalm 80:4).

I’m wondering if Mary’s response in Luke 1 is an instruction to me. She’s alarmed by the angel Gabriel’s appearance, and not sure what it means. She questions God– “how can this be?” She says, “let it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:34 and 38). And then the angel leaves. Mary doesn’t know God’s plan, or what’s going to happen, or how the heck her surprise baby is going to save Israel. But she trusts that God will be faithful, and knows she, like the Psalmist, can hold him to his promises. ”Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” 

Let it be so. 

I teach first year writing seminar at Boston College and live oceanside in Lynn with my husband Nathan and an inordinate number of books. I am thinking about the Christian virtue of hope, and how it is practiced in painful seasons, both personal and national.