Welcome to #ccdaAdvent.
In the midst of darkness, oppression, and marginalization, Christ entered the scene of the first Advent and paved the way for our communal wellbeing. This Advent season, we invite you to consider what wellbeing meant for the community of first Advent. What lessons may we draw from their context? Join the CCDA community over the next 4 weeks as we identify and learn what holistic wellbeing looks like from an exposition of Isaiah 40:29-31.
Each devotional will include a reflection, breath prayer, art, and worship. We pray that the reflections and prayers within these Advent devotionals bring renewed inspiration, anticipation, and hope in the Kingdom of God that has come and is to come. Amen.
Devotional by: Vola Ranaivoson, CCDA Writing Team
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted…”Isaiah 40:29-31
For decades, the Israelites were living in exile in a foreign land that was not their home. That’s the scene we enter in Isaiah 40. Even the strongest person would get tired and weary from the daily grind of life, much less, having to go through an exile that radically shook them to the core, physically, culturally, and spiritually. I think of how many of the Israelites grew up in exile, hearing stories of the faithfulness and promises of God, all while their situation seemed impossible and bleak. They were likely left with questions like, “Does God care about the rampant injustice that cripples us and our communities? If God does care, what’s being done about it? Is God for and with us?”
When we enter the scene of the first Advent, we see the Israelites have waited in silence for God to speak again for over 400 years! Then, Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, doesn’t come in fanfare and majesty (as they expected), but as a poor, helpless babe born to poor parents in a lowly manager in a marginalized community. Something else that stands out to me reading Jesus’s birth story is in Matthew 2:16: “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”
Think about the cries of mothers ringing out in the night as soldiers came to take their babies away; the grief they carried from a young one’s life taken away. Think about the looming threat and fear Mary & Joseph felt for their baby Jesus. On top of that, the Hebrews still had the stories and trauma from generations before of what it was like for them when they were taken into exile. The Israelites experienced feelings of weariness, hopelessness, and despair as they were once again at the mercy of an outside force who oppressed and killed to keep power. This was enough to make them lose their strength and be overwhelmed.
“Even youths shall faint and be weary and young men shall fall exhausted.” -Isaiah 40:30
It is in this weariness and darkness that God chooses to enter in. In Isaiah 40 – God calls the Israelites to rest, find comfort, and a new beginning in Him. He reminded them that he hears their despair, fears, complaints, and cries. God reassures them of His faithfulness and trustworthiness. He reminds them of who He is even as youth faint and young men fall exhausted: “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:28-30)
In the bleak backdrop of the First Advent, we find God once again choosing to enter in. This time, literally as Immanuel – “God with us.” David Ould beautifully writes, “In the child Jesus there is someone who can bring joy and peace to this most distressing of tragedies. He is the King who will triumph over all evils. He is the Son who will one day willingly give his life so that others may live.”
As I turned 35 in November, I became more aware of how frail my body is, and am noticing how easily tired I get now. Not only physical tiredness, but also tiredness from the same old systems that don’t seem to change as I hear about our communities still being plagued with injustice. The work is plenty, and many young lives are upended. Trauma comes rearing its ugly head, years after, and the daily grind of life in a disintegrated world takes its toll.
As a young CCDA practitioner, I have seen the hard work that is being put in to call for change, in dismantling systems that have been used to oppress and divide. I’ve also seen the growing emphasis on rest as a necessity and divesting from the rush culture that leaves us exhausted and burnt out. I’ve been encouraged by renewed and innovative ways of showing up as an integrated whole person that is seeking wholistic restoration in our communities. I’m encouraged that God still chooses to enter into our neighborhoods through CCD practitioners, even in our weariness and fainting.
What weariness are you carrying today?
I notice the ways my heart becomes anxious with the urgency of life and ministry, and this Advent I am acknowledging that my body will grow weary and tired, change is slow, and I don’t have to have it all together. I am resting in the fact that God is so much bigger and is able to hold our weariness, fears, bitterness and tears. He doesn’t grow faint or weary and promises to be “God with us” this season. For you who are faint and weary, remember: “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:28-30)
We inevitably have ebbs and flows of strength & weariness in this work. How do we maintain a spirituality for the long haul? Dive deeper with our masterclass here: A Spirituality for the Long Haul