We are waiting.
We know you work wonders
We know you work mysteries
We know you choose the surprising
We know you choose the unsuspecting
We know you keep hope, joy and peace alive
We know you keep your promises and your love
Help us not just to know, but to practice believing
While we are waiting.
November 28th, election day, was also the first Sunday of advent. What a day to celebrate hope! That day I was witness to how hope inspired people to walk miles to voting centers to cast their ballots for Haiti’s next president. I was also witness to the destruction of voting centers before their ballots could even be counted. On Monday, I returned to Port-Au-Prince tired and filled with a deep sense of hopelessness.
How could an election that cost $29 million be executed so poorly? With the world watching so closely, how is it that voting center staff received so little training and so many registered voters’ names were left off of electoral rolls? How is it that none of MCC’s staff in Port-Au-Prince were actually able to vote, though not for lack of trying?
But as we celebrated hope and expectancy on Monday night with some of our MCC community, I was reminded that the season of advent is all about finding hope in the face of hopelessness. It’s about looking towards peace, joy and love in a context of global oppression and injustice, even in post-earthquake Haiti and in the midst of a dysfunctional electoral process.
All creation groans for redemption from the systemic evil that so dominates our world; and the first week of advent is a celebration of our expectancy for that redemption. On Monday night we read Romans 8:18-24 together: With eager hope, all creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. We know that all creation is still groaning as in the pains of childbirth. And we also groan, for we long to be released from sin and suffering.
In the meantime, we’re also in Haiti because we have hope. We believe that we have a role to play in the process of redemption. We believe that there is hope for real change for this country and that we are helping to construct the Kingdom of God on earth, expecting that someday this will be brought to completion.
One of my favorite Christmas hymns is O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which is traditionally sung on the first Sunday of advent:
O come, O Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here
And drive away the shades of night
And pierce the clouds and bring us light.Beginning prayer by Michelle Jentzi, 2003