Here we are, already at the end of the first week of Advent. Below is the lovely Rev. Margarita Sánchez De León who a MCC Elder. She is based in Mexico and Emily and Alan were luckily enough to get to know her when we all happened to be in London at the same time.
If there is faith there is hope. Written by Rev. Margarita Sánchez De León
Let’s imagine for a moment that you live in a post-war period, the most significant symbols of your country have been destroyed. Much of the population was killed, raped or forced into exile. Jeremiah 33: 14-16 was written in a similar context.
This part of the book of Jeremiah is known as the Book of Consolation. How to find consolation when all you know and what is valuable to you has been lost or destroyed?
At times like those, faith is in crisis, we lose hope. God falls from our souls.
The first Sunday of Advent presents another reading. Luke 21: 25-36. The apocalyptic language of the narrative surprises us. The text warns us that God’s time is coming. And how can we recognize it? Many confusing things will happen. How can we have faith and hope in times of confusion?
Perhaps some of you will agree with me: We are not far away from the situations described in the Gospel of Luke and in Jeremiah’s book of Consolation. According to the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research, currently there are 21 countries at war and 25 countries in low-intensity wars. The effects of these conflicts or wars are thousands of dead, thousands displaced, abuse against the most vulnerable: women, children, the destruction of infrastructure in at least twenty countries in the world and many other evils.
We might think that we are far from conflicts of that magnitude. And perhaps we think that in no way those conflicts affect or impact us. I live in Mexico City Mexico. Mexico is a country which according to researchers is immersed in a war. A war in part caused by drug trafficking and corruption. This war is focused in the states of Tamaulipas, Michoacán and Guerrero, however, affects in one way or another the whole country.
The violence, the consequences of armed conflicts affects each of our countries. A few days ago, many people in the world cried for the terrorist attack in Paris, just as we mourn the abduction of hundreds of girls in Nigeria by extremist groups, have seen with anguish civilian flights fall as a result of attacks by groups in conflict. We are left speechless at the disappearances of more than 22,000 people in Mexico over only a short period of time.
It is true that the causes of these situations are very complex, but we cannot forget that the profound inequalities in the world, that are also violence, are likely to be the birthplace of each of these tragedies.
Something is terribly wrong in a world where:
- Around 795 million people do not have enough food to lead a healthy life. That’s almost one of every nine people on earth.
- Something is very wrong when 400 million people worldwide have no access to health services.
- Something is rotten in the world when the number of people who do not have adequate housing exceeds 1,000 million. And according to UN Habitat, millions of people around the world live in dangerous conditions for life or health.
- If we take a picture on the state of education around the world, we find that even 93 million children do not attend primary school, with greater impact on girls.
This reality is violence, but usually it does not frighten us that much.
We must accept that, despite the advances of recent times, the abyss created by the lack of access to a full life is still a critical problem that humanity suffers.
Before the crisis experienced by his people, the author of Jeremiah’s Book of Consolation, describes a prophet who does not avoid the fate of his people: but he too is exiled, he goes to jail and from there preaches a God who will not fail in His/Her promise: the joy will return to the streets of Jerusalem.
It is also true that the prophet says that what is happening is the expression of God’s wrath against the disobedience of an infidel people. Is God motivated by anger? I do not know… I can only assert God’s acts of love. I can only assert God’s continued attempts to reconcile us, for including us under her wings, as a hen shelters all her chicks.
Meanwhile the author of Luke calls his listeners to be ready, prepared. Inviting them to read the signs of the times. The Son of man shall come in all his glory. For so long community of believers in different historical moments, tried to know when Parousia will come, that is, the return of the Lord Jesus will happen! Perhaps this title or name: Man’s Daughter, Son of Man, is for every person that like Jesus is committed to the promise of God’s good news to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, health to outcasts. Maybe Man’s Daughter and Son of Man are those committed with God’s time when songs again be sung in the streets of our cities.
In this season of Advent we are called to have faith and hope, even amid the violence of our world, amid the confusing of our lives, God still calling Sons of Woman, Daughters of Man, little messiahs who are saving our world.
People like Dr. Jim Withers, who is dressed as a homeless person to provide medicine and medical care to thousands of rough sleepers in the dark streets of Pittsburgh.
Or perhaps as Nareen Shammo, a 28-year Iraqi dedicated to saving women from the Yazidi ethnic minority, to be enslaved by the Islamic State in Iraq. Nareen has rescued at least 700 women that were raped, forced to convert to Islam and sold as slaves.
Or maybe like Lorrana Scarpioni, a Brazilian woman founder of Biilive, who has changed the concept that to have services or training money is required, giving priority to the exchange as a way to beat voracious capitalism.
Like Chad Berstain from Guitars over guns, an American musician who uses music as a way to take young people at risk of violence from the streets in Florida.
God continues calling sons and daughters of good will in the world, so that we can again sing and so we don’t forget that nothing and no-one can take away our hope.