The Energy Of Promise | Sojourners

The Energy Of Promise

First Sunday in Advent December 2, 1979
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36.

Our age has come to expect satisfaction. We have grown up in an absolutely unique period when having and possessing and accomplishing have been real options. They have given us an illusion of fulfillment and an even more dangerous illusion that we have a right to expect fulfillment -- and fulfillment now -- as long as we are clever enough, quick enough, and pray or work hard enough for our goals.

We believe that we are energized by the bird in the hand; but believe it or not, the word of God and the history of those who have struggled with that word would seem to tell us that we are, in fact, energized much more by the bird in the bush. God's people are led forward by promises. It is promises, with all their daring and risk, that empower the hearts of people.

God's people are called through the enticement of the call itself, much more than through the direct vision of God's face, the certitude of God's answers, or the unfailing presence of God's joy. The Lord is "Our Justice" not by fulfilling us, but by calling us from where we are. God restores us not by making it happen, but by promising that it will. God tells us who we are by telling us who we are to become. Somehow that is enough. It works! At least it works for those who can learn how to believe: "Blessed is she who believed that the promises made to her would be fulfilled."

All wishful thinking to the contrary, it is not fulfillment which drives and calls and enriches humankind, but we are undoubtedly called forth by the mystery of what-could-yet-be. It is dreams that drive us and hopes that make us happen. And so God has given himself to us in a way that we could receive him and also benefit from him, even though we fail to see it as a gift or to praise him for the giving.

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November 1979
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