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Advent 3

Jesus wept.

If He wept, I am certain He laughed. For he who goes forth weeping, will come again rejoicing.

Jesus reveals the God to man. At the same time, he reveals man to man. We forget who we are and what makes us human. Like scribbles on pad, we become distorted figures, drained of the glory and wonder and the power of being human–of being childlike.

In the twilight of our fading images, we forget. We forget the wonder of this world. We forget the terror of the night. We forget the joy of a blade of grass. We forget the magic behind every bush. We forget to laugh hundreds of times a day. And we forget to cry.

We sniffle. In fact, we may shed a tear or two on occasion. But most of us no longer have the capacity to cry: to turn red and scream out at the top of our lungs, to fall down in anguished groans; to cry out with our whole body.

Jesus cried so hard he shed tears of blood.

Yet most of us will attend funerals and feel embarrassed if our cry is loud enough for anyone else to hear. It’s okay to shed a tear, but to fall to the ground; to scream out and pound our chests; to tear our clothes in agony is unthinkable. We’ve forgotten how to cry.

Jeremiah cried and cried and cried. He emptied his heart and body onto the ground in desperate sobs and moans. He says, “My eyes fail with tears, my heart is troubled; my bile is poured on the ground.” And he calls out to all who can hear him, inviting, commanding them to join in the anguish: “O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night; give yourself no relief; give your eyes no rest.”

What could be so horrible, so painful, so desperate that would cause a person to cry until he almost died? The end of the world. His world ended before his very eyes. Babylon besieged Jerusalem. Sickness and famine consumed the city. People fell dead in the streets. Mothers ate their own children. The temple was burned to the ground. The heavens and earth were consumed by fire.

He watched the world that he knew, that he loved, that he prayed for, die a tormented death. And he cried.

“Oh, that my head were waters,
And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night
For the slain of the daughter of my people!”

There is a cry so deep that sounds can no longer express the twisting of the heart inside. The soul comes undone. There is a grief that rips into the fiber of every human. On occasion, people like Jeremiah enter into it. Most of us run in terror from such deep distress. In that breaking grief, we feel the grief of this world, and we know: everything is not all right.

The earth grieves and groans and cries out for redemption. This grief beats in the heart of all things. It is this anguish, this tortured agony, this pulsing pain that can only find respite in the appearing of the Lord, the Parousia!

Despite our bravado; despite our arrogant self-sufficient attitude: all of us are desperately weak. Evil and chaos and sin has enslaved every human heart. In our cool, calm satirical smiles, we may mock the emotionally weak. We are too strong to cry and have become too weak to be human. We can no longer sustain any pure passion: genuine joy and sorrow fade and we live a bland mediocre existence.

It is only by His grace alone, that we can honestly admit our weakness and face our brokenness. It is only His grace that allows us to desperately cry out for the “Parousia!”

In the lonely hours of the dark night, the rhythm of mourning gives way to the rhythm of expectation.

He is coming!

And he comes. He comes with healing in his wings. He comes to comfort the broken heart. He comes to exchange beauty for ashes. He comes to strengthen the weak knees. He comes to baptize us in the fire of His love.

As we celebrate this Advent waiting, may He grant us the privilege to go out weeping and to return again rejoicing.

Categories: Advent Tags: , , ,
  1. December 8, 2005 at 8:13 pm

    Wonderful post, Doug, particulary the part about weeping. I thank God just about every day that he’s given me the gift of weeping. Peace.–>

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