“…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NRSV)
We hear it all the time, what are you afraid of, why don’t you just get over it, what is holding you back. We have all been afraid. Afraid to try something new. Afraid that we won’t get it right. Afraid that we won’t be heard when we tell our story. Then we hear another voice, God’s gentle voice, saying don’t be afraid. I am here. You are not alone.
I remember the first time I went to a northern community, a First Nations community. I remember how afraid I was. That I would say something wrong. That I would be judged because I am a settler. That I wouldn’t be able to hear the hard stories that might be shared. This fear was almost crippling.
Then I thought about that passage from Micah about justice, kindness and walking humbly with God. I had been invited to that community because I was working on doing justice in the church and for the church. I wanted to hear the stories even if they did make me uncomfortable. If I did listen humbly and with kindness I would be able to hear their stories and not be afraid. I would be able to hear and have those stories change me from someone fearful to someone with compassion and courage. I was able to hear God’s voice in those stories telling me to not be afraid of the truth, to not be afraid of the journey of reconciliation, to not be afraid of strengthening relationships.
I now live in Wetaskiwin, a semi-rural community in central Alberta, a place that neighbours four First Nations, a place that is struggling to become a bridge builder. I am the member of a church that is struggling to discern what are the next best steps for it to take on its reconciling journey. We are all working on not being afraid. We are all waiting to see where God is leading us.
During Advent we get a time that is set aside. A time for hearing God’s call to us. A time that calls us out of our fears to see where God is calling us to do justice , to love kindness and to walk humbly in the way of our Saviour. We have a time that calls us to become filled with God’s love for all people and the whole world.
Holy One who calls us to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with you, assist us to set aside our fears, to open our hearts to reconciling relationships, to become filled with your love and walk with each other through this time of Advent.
(A version of this has been published in the On Eagles Wings Advent Reflections and also in the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton’s monthly newspaper ‘The Messenger‘. I thank them for doing so.)