God Busy Here
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
Second Sunday in Advent
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Early one morning when I was very small, my mother and I stood looking out of our front window at a bright red dawn. “Why’s the sky so red,” I asked. Because, mom replied, “God’s making cotton candy today.” I’d eaten cotton candy but had no idea where it came from or how it was made. But grown-ups said that God gave us good things and cotton candy was good. For a long time I imagined God busy up in the sky making things, among them bright red cotton candy. It just seemed right, though I never figured out how he got it from “up there” to “down here”. It was a letdown, several years later, to watch a sweaty, grumpy woman in a dirty apron making cotton candy at the county fair.
Giving up the idea that God is somewhere out there acting directly on our world comes at a price. Some folks will accuse us of losing our faith – and we may wonder ourselves. If God isn’t directing things, what’s God doing? If God doesn’t control when good and bad things happen, why do we pray? If God isn’t pulling the strings, who is? Anybody?
When Jesus was beginning his ministry, he referred to himself as accomplishing the work of the Messiah; he was announcing the good news of God’s love to the disabled and disenfranchised. He then spent the rest of his life convincing his followers that they had the ability and the responsibility to bring healing and justice to those in need.
God is the living force bringing everything to fulfillment. God is the reality within growth and change, never forcing, never relenting, searching out the way forward. We sense it within ourselves. We thrill to it when we’re strong; we crave it when we’re weak. We are cynical about it when our progress is overwhelmed and we’re thrown back at every turn. We find it getting up and shaking itself back into life when we can see no way forward simply because, for God, not to rise up isn’t an option.
All life evolves as it struggles against the obstacles it faces. We say that Jesus revealed God in his life and death. We know that Jesus’ life was a struggle from his conception to his resurrection. Why can’t we accept that his struggle revealed God – as much as his resurrection.
Maybe one day we’ll be able to see the saint in the sweaty cotton candy lady with the dirty apron. When we do, she’ll be less grumpy.