Continuing in the "Unsettling Advent" series
When I lived briefly lived in Oklahoma in the mid-1980's, I recall the banner on "The Daily Oklahoman" newspaper: "To comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable."
William Stringfellow points out that Holy Spirit is not just Comforter/Counselor, but Agitator.
So, Advent is a real "good news, bad news" season. "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty," Luke 1:53. It brings news of comfort for some and news of coming affliction for others (though I know of no one who actually thinks there's anything afflicting associated with Christmas).
This Advent season, I keep asking myself: Where am I in this story? Am I to take comfort or take cover? Am I to rejoice that I am being lifted up or to rejoice that I am being brought down? Are those of us in America who claim to embrace the Good News really ready to accept its implications regarding our daily living?
I wonder: am I one who afflicts? Who in the world is being afflicted directly or indirectly by my choices, practices, needs, desires, tastes, demands and status quo in which I fully--through usually unwittingly--participate? Do I really want to know?
On the other hand, I wonder: am I one who comforts? Who in this wide world is being comforted because of me? Who in the world is being liberated, released, or empowered as a director indirect impact of my sensitivities, priorities, choices, influence, use of gifts, gift-giving, donations, service, prayers and commitments?
I ask these questions but, like Ebenezer Scrooge, I am not sure I want to hear the honest answers.