Keep Awake - Monday

Read Mark 13:24-37
Commentary | Dr. Marcia Riggs
This Advent season begins amid pandemic and protest. We were not prepared for the dramatic shifts in our ways of living as COVID-19 began its trek across the globe. Many physical bodies have been ravaged and lives taken by this fierce virus. Families, churches, schools, and employees have been scattered from their gathering spaces into physical isolation. Likewise, Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests erupted in cities (nationally and globally) as Black women and men died again at the hands of police violence.

To begin Advent amid pandemic and protest is a befitting point of departure for 21st century people of God. We are being reminded that to be the people of God requires an ethical posture of attentiveness, to “keep awake.” (v. 37) The text charges us to “keep awake” because we do not know the day or the hour when the fullness of “God with us” will be realized. To keep awake means we are being charged, in the vernacular of BLM, to be “woke.” Being woke means being aware of, enraged by, and willing to protest in solidarity with people who are pushed to the margins of society because of systemic oppression manifest as racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia—any and all forms of objectification and dehumanization we enact upon one another.

As we light the Advent candle of hope, we keep awake by dreaming, by envisioning how we will live out God’s promise to be with us. We expect God to be with us and meet us on the other side of this pandemic and protest. For the other side of pandemic and protest is not a return to “normal”; it is living the hope of God’s continuing revelation of justice. We do not know the day or the hour, but we do know as the African American poet Langston Hughes says:

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.1

1 Langston Hughes. "Dreams.” The Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Copyright © 2002 by Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates, Inc. poetryfoundation.org/poems/150995/dreams-5d767850da976
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