Sunday, December 05, 2010

Seeking Advent(ure) in Haiti

Over the past week I have encountered Isaiah 40:1-11 a few different times in various devotionals.  This is a pretty standard passage for the beginning of Advent, but this scripture is jumping out at me in new ways as I prepare for my trip to Haiti this week.  Advent means "coming."  It is the season in which we remember the coming of God incarnate in Jesus, we prepare our hearts to welcome Christ in our midst, and we look forward to the future restoration of the world.  Isaiah's "voice crying out in the wilderness" reminds us of this future reality.  And if there is a people on this earth who understand the impact of massive landscape change (physical, emotional and cultural), if there are people who know the fragility of life, if anyone is in need of comfort, embrace and the promise of restoration, it is the people of Haiti.  

Calling a season "Coming" might sound as though we are passively waiting for an event to occur, but in the traditional Christmas stories characters are usually called upon to "get up and go."  Jesus is coming, and we are told to prepare the way and go to the place where he is. Of course while we often talk about Christians "bringing the light of Christ into the world," in the Christmas stories only one human gets to do that.  This has been a particularly meaningful truth for me as I prepare to go to Haiti; I am vividly aware of the fact that I am not "bringing God to Haiti," but going to a place where God is at work more powerfully than I can imagine. 

So far my whirlwind mission whim has been an amazing experience.  As of this weekend I've raised all of the money I need!  I have said it before, but I am blessed with a great support system.  In particular, I am amazed by my friends who donated money even though I know that they don't have a lot of money to be throwing around.  Being on the receiving end of so much grace is a little overwhelming - I go through moments of feeling guilty for being given so much.  It feels like I haven't given much yet and I've already received so much.  Of course, if someone else was expressing these kinds of concerns to me I would tell them very sincerely that if they there is a need for people to help rebuild and that if someone has a desire and ability to go, she or he should go. 

It isn't just on Christmas that we experience the coming of God.  The real experience of God happens in the get-up-and-go-ing, when we seek out where good things are happening and join in.  Things are really bad in Haiti right now.  But I have heard stories from others about how people are working together to rebuild.  It is no accident that we celebrate Advent and Christmas in December.  As the days get shorter and shorter in the Northern Hemisphere, we are reminded that light has the most impact in the dark.  I am excited to see how the light shines out in the dark in Haiti.  

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