December 9 / Second Sunday of Advent
Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; Put on the splendor of glory from God. ~ Baruch 5:1
There is scarcely a parent alive who has not at some point uttered the words, “You’re not wearing that, are you?” When my children were younger, this often occurred in the context of church-going, the battle lines drawn over tucked vs. untucked shirts. Even now, my kids love the coastal church we attend in the summers where (nice) shorts and (leather) flip-flops are acceptable in our eyes. Different settings demand different sartorial strategies. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance — and clothing appropriate to each of these activities. In today’s reading, Jerusalem — symbolizing the people of Israel who broke with God and suffered the terrible punishment of exile — is instructed to prepare for the joyful restoration of God’s love by stripping off the robe of mourning and sorrow. Their awful sentence completed, the Israelites can exchange the sackcloth of repentance for a garment of joy, or as Baruch describes it, “the splendor of the glory from God.”
This season of Advent invites us to pray about the occasions in our lives when we have broken with God — succumbing to habitual impatience or anger in a relationship, subtly undercutting a colleague, failing to care for the weaker or more vulnerable. As we prepare to welcome the blessing that is Christ into our midst, we would do well to remember that he comes to forgive us those flaws. Through prayer and reflection, we ask him to heal our short tempers, our competitiveness and our neglect of others. And through the grace of God, we can exchange the penitential purple of Advent for the festive, joyful colors of Christ-among-us.
Wise and benevolent God, clothe me this day in your love and goodness, that I may be a powerful witness to your presence in the world.Amen.