In Memory of Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston performs onstage during the 2011 Pre-Grammy Gala. Photo by Getty
Whitney Houston performs onstage during the 2011 Pre-Grammy Gala. Photo by Getty Images.

The Bible teaches us: “A good name is better than precious ointment and the day of death, than the day of birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

On this day, as the world morns the unexpected passing of legendary singer Whitney Houston, this wisdom reminds us that when we grieve death, we grieve our own loss.

Ms. Houston has passed from time into eternity, from this veil of tears to a place where there is no more pain and no more tears, where the only relevant judgment is the judgment of God Almighty.

As a girl, Ms. Houston sang in church, and in her last public performance she sang, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me.” In the time and space between, she lived a life of wealth and fame, of joy and pain.

Bearing the 'Wait' of the World

The Word of God is steadfast and faithful. This is the promise and the witness of scripture. We are called to remember this promise. God is active in history and in our local and global communities, offering mercy that both comforts and baffles us. The Word of God speaks of restoration. It lives fully into its covenantal relationships. It offers a peace too deep and wide for anything less than poetry to hint at it. The Word of God is the stuff of visions and dreams. It is the calling of prophets. It is the witness of disciples. It fosters unlikely relationships. It is a transformation that requires patience and painful self-assessment. The Word invites us to mimic God’s healing care. It is for us and beyond us. It extends to those we would rather not think about or be concerned with. The Word of God is the fulfillment of all hope, all longing, and all waiting. As such, this Word demands preparation.

In the season of Advent we dwell on what it means to bear the “wait” of the Word. What does preparation look like? How do we encourage one another to wait faithfully? How do we receive God’s comfort when it may not seem like enough for our present circumstances? What or whom are we tempted to mistake for the Light because we are so desperate to be restored from an illness so few of us even recognize we have?

Enuma Okoro, of Durham, North Carolina, is the author of Reluctant Pilgrim and co-author of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

[December 4]
A Posture of Waiting
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13;
2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

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