Go, shout it out, rise up
Escape yourself, and gravity
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Force quit and move to trash
I was right there at the top of the bottom
On the edge of the known universe where I wanted to be
I had driven to the scene of the accident
And I sat there waiting for me
Restart and re-boot yourself
You’re free to go
Shout for joy if you get the chance
Password, you, enter here, right now
You know your name so punch it in
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Then don’t move or say a thing
I am a huge fan of the band U2, and the lyrics you just heard are from a song called “Unknown Caller.” I love this song because it speaks of new beginnings, a chance to “reboot yourself”, to start clean by moving all of the things that cause emotional and perhaps physical clutter to the trash. U2 often speaks about God in their music. Many believe that the unknown caller in the song is God, who is telling the one who is being called, that everything is really ok. There is mercy, and everyone gets a chance to “re-boot”, to start again, to “force quit” and move to trash those things that are getting in the way of the person being everything they could be; it is a time for them to “shush now” so that God might speak to them, a time for them to listen, and when the chance comes, to shout for joy.
These ideas should sound a bit familiar. For me, they speak of the season of Advent that we enter into now; it is a time of newness, a time of quiet and expectation; and while it is a time for us to tun ourselves around, to face God and God’s ways if we have gone astray, it is not the same as Lent. For advent, we live our lives in the expectation that waits for hope and for joy; we live this time in that place of “here and not yet” and time between times. The first part of the season we will hear Jesus talk about the end times, the times when he shall return in glory; and then later in the season, our time together will shift and we will wait for the holy child whose birth changes everything.
I love this time of year. There is something about having time to meditate on hope and on joy, that I think we need more of as a church and as a society. Hope is contagious; and it is also dangerous. I remember president Snow, the villian from the “Hunger Games” movies said, that “hope is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous.” Neither hope nor joy are merely warm and fuzzy feelings; they are however, very deeply connected to our relationship to God in Jesus. We have hope that Jesus will come again, although we do not know when; and we live in the joy, the knowledge, that we are loved and cherished by God.
Advent is not, however, a time for us to sit around and wait; honestly, very little about being disciples of Jesus is about sitting around passively. Even now, in this time while we await the light that shall conquer the darkness, we are to get ready; we are to prepare. We prepare the manger in our hearts for the child who will be born for us, as we also use God’s grace that is freely given to cast away the works of darkness, as our opening collect says. These works of darkness are both personal as well as corporate; perhaps it is time to look closely at personal behavior that is death dealing; perhaps it is time to encourage others beat swords into ploughshares; perhaps, it is time for hope to overcome the fear in our lives that holds us back from being the people that God has created us to be. Discipleship isn’t easy, but we can rest in the knowledge that Jesus gave us his Holy Spirit and this so that we would never have to face discipleship alone.
Happy new year, church. This is a time of celebration as we join with the rest of God’s church in a time of new beginnings. It is literally, a time of new beginnings for St. Michael’s, as we enter into a time of ministry together. I have been praying for this community long before I knew who you were; and now I pray very specifically for you each day. As we look toward the second coming of our Lord Jesus, I pray that we may each live in the hope that is ours. I pray that each of us might turn ourselves around and let Jesus shine his light into those places of darkness in our lives. I pray that we may grow in love as disciples ready to be about the work Jesus has given us. In this time when our culture tells us we can buy our happiness, I pray that we might take time to re-boot ourselves, to move to trash those things that aren’t working in our lives, I pray that we might “shush now” so that we might give God room and time to speak, and that we might listen. I give thanks for new beginnings, and pray that we will take the time to prepare ourselves and our world for our Lord’s coming. Come, O come, Emmanuel.