Unsettling Advent 2023, Day 7 - Word&Way

Unsettling Advent 2023, Day 7

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18)

The death toll in Gaza due to Israel’s war against Palestinians is 17,177 persons, including 7,112 children.

Twenty-four incarcerated persons have been executed in the United States this year. Eight in Texas. Six in Florida. Four in Missouri. Four in Oklahoma. Two in Alabama.

Welcome to Advent season.

An April 2023 report issued by KFF (formerly the Kaiser Family Foundation) states that a majority (54%) of US adults “have either personally or had a family member who has been impacted by a gun-related incident, such as witnessing a shooting, being threatened by a gun, or being injured or killed by a gun.” More than 630 mass shootings have occurred in the United States this year based on data from the Gun Violence Archive.

Welcome to Advent season.

People in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Haiti, the southern border of the U.S., Ukraine, the Congo, forest defenders in the U.S. state of Georgia, and others around the world are being massacred, detained, and labeled threats to peace and safety. Fascists who call themselves and are called “religious nationalists” are using governmental power to oppress women and children, immigrants, and LGBTQI, indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian, and elderly persons.

Welcome to Advent season.

Followers of Jesus do not ignore these and other horrifying realities by observing Advent. Jesus was born in Palestine when Roman tyranny and its atrocities seemed invincible in militarily-occupied Palestine just like Palestinian children are born today in the militarily-occupied West Bank and the bombed ruins of Gaza. Despite the horrors of ancient and current tyrannies, genocidal regimes, profit-driven greed, religious charlatans, social bigots, and political hypocrites, the heart of Advent is that God will not give up on humanity and the world.

Brandie Gardner, daughter of Ronnie Lee Gardner, is comforted during a candlelight vigil just before his execution by firing squad in Draper, Utah, on June 18, 2010. (Steve C. Wilson/Associated Press)

So during Advent we declare that we are waiting for and with God despite all the horrific realities of our time and locations. The crux of Advent reflection about the birth and awaited return of Jesus is that the irrepressible, death-proof, resurgent presence, purpose, and power of God with humanity is worthy of our waiting.

Despite the horrors we fear, see, and know, God is always coming. Appearing. Redeeming. Resurrecting.




Press onward!

Advent season is here.




Wendell Griffen is pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, and a retired Arkansas circuit judge. You can read more at his blog, The Fierce Urgency of Prophetic Hope.


NOTE: This is part of our Unsettling Advent devotionals running Dec. 3-Dec. 24. You can subscribe for free to receive them each morning in your inbox.