Today it is cold and gray where I live. There is little that
appears to be alive. The trees are stripped bare, all flowers and foliage
are thoroughly frozen. Underfoot, what was green grass just a scant
few weeks ago, is now brown stubble. The daylight hours are short,
and in my academic world tempers seem even shorter as students rush to finish
long-assigned papers and prepare for semester exams while faculty spend painful
hours grading those same assessments of student learning.
Today, too, is the anniversary of the untimely death of my own beloved sibling;
the day that a dear friend is struggling mightily with cancer; that another
young person I care for is flying home to the bedside of his dying Mother.
It is the day that a student is trying to overcome her depression and find
courage to finish a nearly wasted semester with some fragment of success.
Today young soldiers from my nation will die in Iraq and young and old Iraq
men and women will die from the seemingly intractable war that drags around
them. Today is the day that hundreds, perhaps thousands of young men
and women will die of AIDS across the continent of Africa, and their parentless
children will struggle to survive in a seemingly ruthless environment.
At this moment the fast approaching festival of Christmas feels more like
a burden than a celebration of anything. Too many expectations to meet,
too many obligations to address! Too much tinny, trivial music that
drives frightened, frustrated adults to buy too much stuff that they neither
need nor want and will all-to-soon throw away.
In the quiet of the college Church, almost dark in the bleak, December, late
afternoon, I considered the biblical texts from today’s celebration and was
caught again, held almost breathless, by the profound hope that gently bloomed
within me as I heard God calmly assert through the prophet Isaiah, “I am
the Lord, there is no other.”
Faith is as simple as that: Yahweh is God. Yahweh who liberates from
all human forms of slavery; who calls us, each one, by a unique, endearing
name. From within the Trinity of Yahweh’s being comes forth the Son, Jesus
who heals from blindness, deafness, dullness of heart; lifting all forms
of crippling burden, and leaving the Spirit among us to assure that same
compassion and justice for all who come to claim the One God as Lord.
“Turn to me. . . Turn to me in your study, your work, your writing,
your exams, your friendships. Turn to me in your fear, from the bleakest,
weakest corners of your life; in your war making and efforts at peace; in
your buying and selling, your rushing and failing; Turn to me in your living
and in your dying . . . Turn to me and be safe. . . for I am God; there
is no other.”