Jonah sat in the belly of an ocean beast for three days rather than face his duty to call Nineveh back to God. And Christians — especially white Christians — in this country have long been ignoring their duty to call one another to repentance.
The tearing open of the cosmic order is the descent of the true justice of God, waged against the empires of this world who rule under the banner of “order and justice,” but whose “justice” is always only violence and oppression.
The Gospel of Mark’s beguiling beginning bids us to consider the dangers of beginnings. John the Baptist’s heralding of Jesus’s coming was not the finality of salvation, but merely a herald to its coming. In this light should we consider our works of bringing God’s salvation and liberation to the world. The work of justice and liberation is long and hard, and many of us will be called to herald it, to lay the groundwork for its eventual manifestation.
In the midst of a pandemic, can these Advent texts speak to our grief, both collective and personal, in political ways? These scriptures reveal that to grieve is to bear witness to our tears through righteous anger. They interrogate how our lives are structured along inequitable lines in this present moment and counter a simple return to how things were.
Socially, economically, and politically the time of COVID-19 in the Pacific has been a mixed one. In one way it has been apocalyptic (literally an “uncovering” or “unmasking”); truths about the region’s true political economy can no longer be denied. On the other hand, the COVID-19 era has provided opportunities for governments to “mask” and cover up inconvenient truths of the region.
These systems of oppression, much like the golden calf, do not represent the God of love and righteousness. Instead, the fashioning of what can be tamed points to our depraved greed, moral bankruptcy, and the diabolical strategies we employ for survival.
Our only hope is that the God who will raise us, the God whose justice is glorified, will eventually make all things right. Our trust in our just God should be evident in our words and our works as we live out the proclamation of the gospel.