For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” (“O Holy Night”)
As 2020 comes to a close, our world is most definitely weary and yearning once again for a “new and glorious morn.” Advent is a season to watch and wait, and it feels like now more than ever we hold vigil together, waiting for the dawning of relief and joy. But how do we take hold of the “thrill of hope” we have in Christ and rejoice even in this very moment?
One of my teachers in this is Miriam from the Hebrew Bible. She stands out to me because of the way she picks up a tambourine and dances after she and her Hebrew community escape Egyptian captivity and cross through the Sea of Reeds (Exodus 15:20-21).
Doing what she did would not come naturally for me. If God told me we were on our way to a “land flowing with milk and honey,” I’d want to wait until I got there—until I saw it, until I felt that fertile ground beneath my feet, until I heard no rumble of my captors coming down the road, until I tasted that milk and honey for myself—before I started to dance. I’d want to know that the work was done, the promise was secured, and the hope was realized before I pulled out my tambourine or even let myself exhale.
But Miriam celebrates the goodness that is now here, rather than waiting for the full goodness that is to come. Being on the journey to the promised land—never mind that it will take another 40 years—is reason enough to rejoice. God has already worked wonders, and Miriam is not going to let fear of future unknowns stop her from recognizing them.
This Advent, how can we take a lesson from Miriam and celebrate the goodness that is already here and the hope we have in Christ?
Sierra Neiman Westbrook
Sierra Neiman Westbrook is an adjunct professor of Christian spiritual formation at Portland Seminary in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Portland Seminary, Sierra holds a Master of Divinity degree and a certificate in Spiritual Formation & Discipleship. She is also certified through Portland Seminary as a spiritual director. Sierra brings to her work a curiosity about how theology of lament, narrative pastoral care, and explorations in imago Dei theology can enrich a person’s relationship with God. She also enjoys hiking, watching ballet performances, baking, writing, drinking lots of tea, and trying new restaurants with her husband, Justin.