Stop Your Waiting – An Advent Lament

Stop Your Waiting2

You are faithful, that’s what they say.
Your people were slaves in Egypt,
Toiling under the cruel hand of their oppressors, a whip to their backs.
But you heard their cries, yes you heard the groaning of your people.
And after 400 years in Egypt, you were faithful.

You set your people free.
Liberation.
Exodus.
Through the Red Sea they walked out of the mighty hand of Pharaoh,
To Freedom.

But I can’t help but wonder, why did you wait 400 years?
Yes, you kept your promise, but 400 years?
I wonder what it was like for the Israelites who did not live to see it.
How many generations waited for you?
How many generations cried out?
How many women and men were born to slavery, lived in slavery, and died in slavery,
Waiting for you to keep your promise?
How many first-born sons had to die?
How many mothers cried out?
How many had to groan before you acted?
How many waited their whole lives,
Dying as slaves before you stopped waiting?

Still, you kept your promise.
You are faithful, yes, that’s what they say.
You brought your people out of slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey.

Years later your people again lived under the yolk of oppression,
Your children went hungry under the taxes of occupied forces,
And died by the sword of occupation.
They longed for a Messiah.
And you, you Mighty, you Faithful to Save,
You sent your son, your only son, to set your people free;
To keep your promise to the descendants of Abraham.
Sure, it is not the King of Conquest they expected,
But the Messiah brought a different kind of reign,
After 400 years of silence, unto us a son was born, and with him,

A reign of love.
Peace on earth, good will to men.
Good news to the poor.
Freedom for the captives.

But I can’t help but wonder, why did you wait 400 years?
Yes, you kept your promise, but 400 years?
Did you become a deist;
Completely removing yourself from this world?
Were you really silent for 400 years?
How many generations trusted your faithfulness, waiting?
How many generations longed for a Messiah?
How many women and men lived under the sword of Empire,
Waiting for you to keep your promise?
How many first-born sons had to die?
How many mothers cried out?
How many had to groan before you broke your silence?
How many waited their whole lives for you,
Dying oppressed before you stopped waiting?

And yet, you came through.
You kept your promise.
You are faithful, that’s what they say.

The King of Kings,
The Lord of Lords,
The God-With Us, Emmanuel, come to ransom captive Israel;
The Savior, Reconciling all things to God.

And you are faithful, that’s what they say.
You are establishing your reign
Of beauty,
Of redemption,
Of peace,
Of freedom,
Of justice,
Your reign of love.
It’s the Already-Not-Yet-Kingdom, they say,
Come in part, but not wholly here.
And you promise.
You make all things new…

But…

I want to tell you what I saw today. I assume you didn’t see it, because if you did, you would have been furious. I was furious. You would have been raging.

I walked with my Bengali sisters, Dipu and Prinaka, to a taxi.* We weaved our way through the red light area, passing bikes and motorcycles and rickshaws and shopkeepers and men; God, so many men. We each carried a heavy load, full of saris to be stitched – used saris to be turned into beautiful blankets. You know I have long legs, so I reached the taxi first, turning to wait for my sisters, when I saw him.

I saw him staggering, drunk, his friend pulling him away from where he wanted to go. I saw him see her, Dipu. My muscles tensed as I watched his face lean forward and his right foot step out. I watched him slowly, disgustingly lick his lips, leering at my sister. I watched him stumble after her, my sister – free from the trade, but not from the violence of men.

That is what I saw. We walked away and my hands shook and my heartbeat raced. I was furious. But you must not have seen it, because if you had seen it you would have been furious. After all, she’s your daughter, you know better than anyone how much she is worth.

So, no, you must not have seen it. If you had seen it, then you would have been livid, protective of Dipu, as I was. And if you saw it, I would assume, then, that you see all of it – the violence done to Dipu and to the thousands of girls in the gach – every single night; and you would be furious over the violence done to all the girls there. And if you see that, I assume you would see the violence done to all your daughters in all the other red light areas of Kolkata, and then we would surely see you raging. And if you see all of the red light areas of Kolkata, then you must see the violence done to all of your daughters in all the red light areas, all the victims of war, all those who are molested and abused and despised and used and broken, all the suffering and pain that is done in this sea of destruction we find in your world.

But to you, it is not a sea, right? Because every drop in that sea has a name – like Dipu – and a story, and a life. She is fearfully and wonderfully made, right? And surely you would hear the groans and the cries of your daughters in Kolkata and Goma and Jacksonville and El Alto and do, um, something. Right?

So you must not have seen it. You would have been furious.

But you are faithful. Yes, that’s what they say: You are faithful.
You will keep your promise.
So we wait.
And we wait.
And we wait.
For 400 years. And another 400 years. And another. Still another. And 400 more years.
2000 years now, we wait.
And we will continue to wait,
Because you promised,
and in your name all oppression will cease.
We wait for you to make all things new.

But we want you to know that we see it:
We see the destruction, and the violence and the suffering.
And we want you to know that we hear it:
We hear the groans and the cries of our brothers and sisters.
And we have this to say to you,
so hear us:

We have waited for 2000 years.
And apparently, so have you.
Our world is weary.
So end this waiting, and keep your promise
To Dipu,
And Prinaka,
And all the rest.

We are eager, God, desperate for your reign of love to come in full.
We wait for you
To stop your waiting.

 

*Their names have been changed.
photo credit: e³°°° via photopin cc

 

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