Welcome to Goshen College’s online devotionals for the 2013 Advent season! Our theme this year, taken from the Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada worship resources found in Leader magazine, is “O the Mystery of God’s Dwelling.” Every Monday an author will introduce the sub-theme, and on the following weekdays authors will reflect on a specific Scripture passage. The theme for this week, Advent 1, is “We may walk in God’s paths.”
“O the mystery of God’s dwelling” expresses a sense of awe and wonder. Will we hold these words as a reverential expression for God’s act of incarnation? Will we mutter them with a sense of frustration and confusion trying to fully make sense of God entering the human world? The Advent Scriptures present us with a plethora of images of judgment, pain, suffering, idolatry and oppression in both the natural and the human worlds, as well as the parallel images of restoration, redemption, salvation, wholeness and peace.
When you consider the literal and metaphorical paths you have walked in life, what comes to mind? I go back to the woods of my childhood farm. There were different paths traversed for various reasons. Some were made by our tractor, others by human feet, and still others by deer that regularly bounded through. Most of the paths were contained within our property boundaries that I knew well. As long as I stayed on them I was sure to circle back to a place of familiarity. But other paths went beyond our property to unknown destinations. What was on the other side? Where would it take me? Were those lands more of the same or different? Should I go there? What will happen if I do?
I have had both joyful surprises and unexpected annoyances on the paths of life. But sometimes the paths I trekked delivered tragic realities for which I wondered if there could have been another way, or why this happened. Like the Psalmist, I questioned and exclaimed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest,” (Psalm 22).
O God, wander with me in the paths of life. Help me recognize your presence when mystery is my close companion.