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Monday, November 27, 2017

The Waiting Begins: a curled wick and an earthy investment

Though the season of Advent officially begins this coming Sunday, our church decided to start a week early.  An extra week of waiting? Hmm, not sure that sounds appealing, but the worship leader put up verses from Jeremiah 23:5-6, Lamentations 3:25-26, and Isaiah 64:4-5.  She wrote out some call and response that reminded us that God works on a timeline different from ours, so in the waiting we can choose to worry or to hope, to fret or to welcome the space of anticipation.  Advent, waiting, becomes an invitation to stop and look for God's work and presence.  Our everyday lives become an offering laid before God.

This perky little one waited a long time for today.  A full month of hospitalization to be exact, after coming in having lost a third of her weight, a dehydrated newborn who wasn't feeding, who had pneumonia and sky-high salts in her water-depleted body and failing kidneys.  She was in the hospital so long she reached her developmental milestone of smiling, which she did for me today, a sure ticket to discharge.  I think the constant presence of fragility in this hospital makes the wonder of the incarnation, the gestation of Advent, shockingly dangerously real.  

O Emmanuel, by Malcolm Guite (Sounding the Seasons)

O come, O come, and be our God-with-us,
O long-sought with-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name,
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness,
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.

The wounded earth becomes a womb, what a lovely image for the seed that dies and sprouts, for the infant that barely survives yet grows, for the tiny hope that was Jesus and is all these vulnerable babies.

We also finished our Jeremiah series this week, with chapter 32.  In the middle of war, with exile impending, with political upheaval and questions and persecution all around, Jeremiah is instructed by God to BUY A FIELD.  To invest in a land that seems to be lost.  I found that strangely encouraging.  As Area Directors, almost every team teeters on the brink of some crisis, hangs by some thread.  There are thieve, bandits, rebels; there are injustices and bureaucracies and visas; there are chronic coughs and mental illnesses and dangerous parasites; there are droughts and earthquakes and careless drivers; there are coups and wars and corruption.  Yet, by God's grace, we're here buying our fields.  Working for one more term of school to be taught, living on a budget that carries us towards zeros, patiently training pastors to re-tell Bible stories, finagling chemo from far places, teaching residents to do quality-improving research projects, screening for malnutrition, inviting children to read books.

A vulnerable speck of a baby that almost didn't make it.  The reflection of God's risky plan to become Emmanuel.  The affirmation that this wounded womb of a world is a place worth investing our all, even in a season of uncertain outcomes.

Naivasha International Fellowship begins Advent 

Talk about vulnerable . . . 43 babies, 40-ish moms (several twins), 3 doctor-interns plus 3 clinical-officer interns plus 2 graduated doctors, nursing students, and me.  Hardly even standing room, and one of the beds had not two but three babies today.

Yet a place worth investing.  Thankful that Friends of Naivasha built this space. 

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