Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 122; 145, Isaiah 5:8-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Luke 21:20-28
“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
– Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act I, Scene I
Every classic love story involves obstacles the lovers must overcome before finally reuniting. Whether it’s warring houses a la Romeo and Juliet, or Heath Ledger’s bad boy reputation in 10 Things I Hate About You (a modern take on Taming of the Shrew), problems both tragic and comedic arise. The basic storyline has become cliched if not outright hackneyed, yet its appeal endures.
Maybe that’s because history’s ultimate love story, that between God and humanity, has repeated this pattern over and over. In this case though the obstacles are all one-sided. We repeatedly abandon God, but God never abandons us. It may feel that way when the fallout of our actions leaves us in an unGodly place – whether metaphorically or in the case of Isaiah’s exiled audience quite literally – but God never initiates the “breakup.”
If today’s readings about destruction were part of a dramatic plot structure, we’d be squarely in the middle of Act IV: the lovers who thought they were destined to be together forever have been torn apart by [insert plot point here]. Ironically the party who seems to hold all the cards – in this story, God – is actually the one helplessly wounded by the split. We are undone by our own pride and foolishness and must suffer terrible consequences we were warned to avoid. We know that in the end love triumphs in the person of Jesus Christ, but during Advent – and all the Advent-like seasons of our lives – we live into the uncertain waiting.
We are called to ever deeper levels of communion with God, and this season encourages us to examine the personal and communal obstacles we need to address before that can happen. As the cycle of obstacles continues, so does the cycle of reunion – at Christmas, at Easter, at Pentecost and at various points in our lives when we reach Act V, and are reunited with God. Be sure to stick around until the credits roll!
Comfort: Your love story with God has a happy ending.
Challenge: Meditate on what obstacles you may be creating in your reLatina hip wit God.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your unconditional love. I will do my best to return it every day. Amen.
Discussion: Are there any obstacles you have a habit of inserting into your relationships?
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