Seeker: “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.”
Preacher: “O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.”
Seeker: I hope you do not mind me asking, Preacher, but who are your enemies? You do not have to answer; I am just curious.
Preacher: It is okay, Seeker, I do not mind answering. First, probably myself. I let my self worry over things I should probably not be worrying about. And conversely I do not worry and pay attention to the things I should. In that I am probably not much different from the rest of humanity. This includes letting the opinions (or what I perceive to be opinions) of others influence me. Again, my enemy is me. Second, I would sadly number amongst my enemies those people who hurt and abuse others. A slight or abuse to one is an injury to all. I do not like to think that I have enemies. But from the world as we see it, there are people who probably would consider me their enemy. I like to believe that I am blameless in that; but the truth is, I might have inadvertently made an enemy or two. That may be third, my inadvertent enemy or enemies. Last, if there is an Evil One in the world, I am pretty sure I am the enemy to that entity. That is, however, an enemy I do not mind having. The Evil One was an enemy to Jesus, and thus I am in good company.
Seeker: Thank you, Preacher, for your answers. “Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Preacher: “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.”
Seeker: “Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.”
Preacher: What about your enemies, Seeker?
Seeker: I think one of my enemies would be myself, for the reasons you outlined. I can’t see why the Evil One would consider my an enemy. But then, that entity is no friend of mine! Those who commit hurtful hateful acts I hope would not be my enemy. Maybe when I stand up for others, as you do, makes me enemies with those of such ilk. But that cannot be avoided. I consider myself to be on a faith journey, still traveling and learning. Who knows what enemies I might yet make? But, who knows what enemies I might turn into friends?
Preacher: Then I commend this verse to you, Seeker. “Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O LORD!” I pray it for myself as well.
Seeker: Then let this be for both of us; “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”
Preacher: Yes, Seeker, I like that sentiment of the psalmist. I have to wonder what the psalmist would have made of Advent. Some of the psalmist’s writings and pondering are put to good use during Advent; not to mention the foreshadowing of Advent. As I consider it, Advent was the beginning of when the enemies of the Divine started to shudder and shake. The Divine was coming to earth in a new and powerful way. And they knew it! And feared it! Maybe that is the substantial difference between those who saw Jesus Christ as the enemy, and those who saw Jesus Christ as relief from their enemies. Hopefully though, Advent can be a time when our relationships can be mended and enemies can be turned to friends. Beginning, if I may say, with ourselves.
Seeker: Advent can and should be a time when we consider the paths we have been on, whether they were the correct ones, and who we have met along the way. The Advent path leads to Jesus Christ; and beyond the birth Jesus is the path to the Divine.
Preacher: And as the psalmist said, “All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.” (Psalm 25:1-10)