On The Second Sunday of Advent: FAITH
by Dawn W
Semantic satiation (n): a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener. Basically, this is the phenomenon of hearing a word so many times that it loses its meaning.
For the Christian community, I think that word is FAITH. We write it on coffee mugs and greeting cards. It’s on t-shirts, Bible covers, even people’s bodies as it is a popular tattoo choice. Having faith, man, that’s what it is all about.
Okay. But what is faith? The author of Hebrews tells us it is the “assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen.” Defined in the OED as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something,” we use faith as the banner of our belief system. We tell one another to have faith, to keep the faith, to seek faith. It’s all words.
The second Sunday of Advent is known as the Sunday of faith, but it is also the Sunday of the prophets. God began sending prophets to His people beginning with Abraham. Prophets are the deliverers of God’s message. They are the people standing before us, proclaiming that we just don’t get it. God used the prophets to explain how He wanted us to live. He used his messengers to tell of the love He had for us, and that’s why He so wanted us to live rightly.
Sometimes, people listened to the prophets and would walk the straight and narrow for a little while. Sometimes, people loathed the prophets. Usually, these were the same people. God’s mouthpieces often faced torment and ridicule and threats of violence. Not to mention they had the unenviable job of saying to their friends, family, and neighbors, “Hey guys? You need to cut it out. Not cool.”
Who would like that guy? No one. No one likes that guy.
The other day, a friend told me about a problem she is having in her office. Her coworkers all got a little rowdy and distracted, and she was the one that reminded them how important it was to stay on task and stay focused. She was met with snide comments and plenty of rolling eyes. Simply put, people don’t respond well to being reminded of the rules.
The prophets kept going. They knew it would be hard. Some of them (looking at you, Jonah) even hated the people to whom they were delivering a message. Yet, they pushed through. They persevered. Because they had faith. Hope in their unseen God; that all of this was worth it. Anticipation in the unseen Messiah that they were telling people about. A complete confidence in a boy from Bethlehem.
I think this Advent, the story of faith is not just about trusting God, but about believing His messengers. What ways is God speaking to you? Through choirs singing carols? Through Christmas cards? The voice or encouragement of a neighbor? Maybe through a sweet boy who put down his blanket long enough to ask, “Lights please!”
May we heed the words of the Collect for the second week of Advent: “…give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer…”