Dr Di Rayson captures our collective weariness and longing as we begin our Advent journey in 2020.
On the twelfth day of Advent, 2020, Joy Connor evokes the deep grief and anger of Malachi as she reflects on the injustice that still surrounds us.
Burning with the anger of injustice
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Malachi is a cranky man, full of grief and anger. As God’s messenger in a culture where revenge and retribution were the answer to wrong-doing, his message brings a whole lot of Malachi with it.
After a year when three horsemen of the apocalypse: fire, flood and pestilence, have rampaged through the land, I wish I had his energy and that I wasn’t just so weary.
Malachi is incensed at hypocrisy, at the loss of reverence for the creator God. He burns with anger at the human hubris which sets the world out of kilter, ignoring the proper balance of the human presence in the light of the eternal, revealed through the ancient law and stories of his people. Hypocrisy which brings sick, useless and worthless offerings to contribute to the care of the temple. These days it is like pretending that the mining of coal seam gas will look after our fragile planet as it destroys the deep ground water. It’s like ignoring the deep wisdom of the Statement from the Heart and just fiddling around the edges, believing that this will fix the racial oppression suffered by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Malachi hates the arrogant sense of entitlement which is deaf to another’s pain. Like inferring that people seeking asylum are illegal potential sex offenders, criminals and terrorists who deserve to lose their youth in off-shore and onshore detention. Decision making which means that people seeking asylum live with no unemployment assistance through a pandemic in order to stop the “pull factor” which causes the deaths at sea of other desperate people.
The thought of putting a bit of heat under the suits who perpetuate the lies is quite attractive after I have listened to people who have been abandoned in detention for 7 years or more. I mentioned this to my dear communist inspired friend. She was horrified. ”That ‘s just not OK Joy” she said, “You are a Christian, you shouldn’t even be thinking like that.”
And she is right. The “Elijah” that Malachi is longing for who “Comes with healing in his wings” doesn’t come as a vengeful militarist God but as a tiny baby born in poverty, living in the midst of the injustice and oppression of an occupied country, sharing the pain of racism and weariness. ”God with us,” as Paul says ”the hope of glory.”
Advent means that the Creator loves us and became one with us in love. The message of compassion and justice doesn’t change but following the one who has shared this pain shifts how we deal with the wrongs whose effects just don’t go away.
I try and start each day sitting or lying down when I am very tired. I shut my eyes and let the sun of God’s love soak in. Letting God love me is sometimes hard. The worries, the things to be done, the hurts of others and my own brokenness constantly interfere. But our God is just crazy about us. “We are all God’s darlings” as Lady Julian of Norwich wrote in 1492.
Joy Connor is a long term social justice activist. She is currently Chairperson of the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group and regularly visits refugees in detention.