Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice and yet still have hope of deliverance. The anticipation of the coming of the Messiah throughout the Old Testament and Judaism was not in connection with the remembrance of sins. Rather, it was in the context of oppression and injustice, the longing for redemption, not from personal guilt and sin but from the systemic evil of the world. It is in that sense that all creation groans for its redemption. As Christians, it is in that hope that we celebrate with gladness the great promise of Advent.
Adapted from The Season of Advent Anticipation and Hope by Dennis Bretcher
May we live in hope and work toward transformation.
What can be done by each of us to mitigate the oppression and injustice within our own sphere of influence no matter how insignificant it may seem. How can we add to the work of justice in the larger sphere?
Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.
The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor. It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities.
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
In the real world, as lived and experienced by real people, the demand for human rights and dignity, the longing for liberty and justice and opportunity, the hatred of oppression and corruption and cruelty is reality.
While everyone’s experience of oppression is different and complicated and often overlapping, I really believe that if you have privilege, you need to learn as much as you can about the world beyond yourself.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.