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The Season of Advent: A message of hope in our darkest hours

By Charlotte B. Cerminaro
web posted December 21, 2020

Even in the best of times many people have an unusual amount of difficulty during the holiday season. For reasons too many to count, the holidays can bring renewed depression, grief, memories or just personal, marital or family strain. These problems are probably made worse by the idea that we are supposed to be feeling a sense of joy and anticipation. And now, after nearly a year of pandemic worry, lockdowns, fear and illness, the added isolation and turmoil throughout the world is palpable. Recovering from my own bout with SARS-COV-2 has left me in the throes of a severe post-viral fatigue and restlessness that has heightened my awareness of pain and suffering--and certainly not just my own. The immunity of unknown duration which I now have seems like an empty reward in the face of the healthcare crisis and financial calamity burdening much of the globe. This begs the question, "Then what reward is there, one that is enduring and meaningful?"

Reading through our pastor's notes and comments from this morning, I was reminded of many promises and covenants, throughout our history, that have been fulfilled or are in the process of being fulfilled. The words of the ancient prophets were echoed in Gabriel's message to Mary, speaking of a long-awaited savior, their Messiah, who would soon be born in the City of David. This promise was to be an everlasting gift for all mankind--an immense, seemingly impossible promise to make, though we are reminded that for God, nothing is impossible. Words like "reconciliation" and "redemption" can barely touch the nature and scope of the events which transpired in first-century Israel, events which still echo down the corridor of time and show themselves in such unexpected, remarkable happenings, in the midst of a world filled with chaos and pain. The Messiah's promise, to be a "light for the gentiles, and a glory to His people Israel" is an ongoing work in our midst, a reconciliation among all mankind, and especially between God and His creation.

More difficult to grasp is the promise of redemption. The word itself denotes a monetary transaction, "paid in full" or "all debts cancelled" and tells us that our transgressions have been paid for, our very lives purchased at a high price to secure our future. But the future always seems vague, unknown, and we only have recent examples in history to illustrate the meaning of such a promise. In November, 1917 a remarkable statement was made by Arthur, Lord Balfour, a member of British parliament, now known as the Balfour Declaration. It was sent to Lord Rothschild and is an unequivocal statement of support for the establishment of a homeland for the people of Israel, after nearly 2,000 years of diaspora. At the end of WWI, this promise was kept and Parliament purchased land, in the area of Palestine, and negotiated for its settlement. Over 30 years after the Balfour Declaration, in May of 1948, the United Nations officially declared Israel's nationhood. Their inheritance had been purchased, and they were redeemed and returned to their own land in one of the most remarkable events of the past century. And the battle isn't over. It's a continuing process of work, in our very midst, and came at a high price.

These days we want easy answers and quick fixes. But anything of great value and profound meaning will be difficult to attain and even more to understand. One of the final promises (Rev. 21) only hints at our future: "Now the dwelling of God is with mankind, and he will live with them...There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things is past.." Comprehending these promises and the immense suffering endured to secure even a small portion of them, only raises their value to an inestimable cost, priceless beyond measure. The magnitude of power behind them is unthinkable, nothing less than the very power of Creation and Life. ESR

Charlotte B. Cerminaro is a Juilliard-trained classical musician who, in addition to being a studio and orchestral musician, enjoys writing. © 2020

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