First Friday in Advent: Psalm 27, Isaiah 29:17-24, Matthew 9:27-31
I enjoy a good grumble. It’s no secret that complaining can be cathartic, especially when it is done loudly, exaggeratedly, ridiculously. It can also be habit-forming, though. Even the Psalmist, known for his life of praise, in another breath mutters, “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan” (Psalm 55:17). A good-natured grumble can raise a smile, but habitual grumpiness is not so attractive.
God knows our ways, and God love us anyway, and is prepared to heal us. I don’t suppose Jesus had much hope of obedience from the men that he healed of blindness in today’s Gospel reading, that they would really keep quiet about such an astonishing event. After all, they were going to have to give some account to their neighbours of their miraculous healing!
And God knows that sometimes we receive instruction, our consciences tell us the right thing to do, and it’s not really what we would like. Whether it’s going out of our way, making ourselves late or forgoing our morning coffee to lend a hand where it’s needed; whether it’s breaking a bad habit that’s bad for our health or our relationships (grumbling included); sometimes we would rather rumble off in the opposite direction.
God persists: all our grumbling will not let us avoid God in the end. So I smiled a little wryly when I read the end of Isaiah’s words of prophecy to us this morning.
“And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction.”
There’s hope for us grumblers yet!
In this season of Advent, part of my grumbling has to do with “the Martha syndrome” (Luke 10:38-42) – too many distractions, too much to do; even when the goal is worthy, to make perfect our welcome for the King of kings at his Advent, the preparations can overshadow the fact that he is already here among us, waiting for our attention, our listening ears, our welcoming hearts.
Beginning this evening at 5, I invite you to a Sabbath hour (if you are in the area of St Andrew’s, Elyria, in body; otherwise, in spirit); time set aside to be knowingly in the presence of the living God; to wait patiently upon the coming of Christ; to set aside our many distractions (and grumblings) and rest. “O God, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you; for in returning and rest we shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be our strength.” Isaiah 26:3; 30:15; BCP 136