The Season of Anticipation in a Time of Unrest

This Advent reflection was originally published in the 2010 Community of the Savior’s annual Advent meditations booklet where Elizabeth Guckenbiehl-Lang attends church.

Advent Reflection on 2 Samuel 7:1-11
by, Elizabeth Guckenbiehl-Lang

The text mentions rest at the beginning and end of the passage. “The Lord had given him [David] rest from all his enemies all around."[1] Again, "Thus says the Lord of Hosts: 'I … have caused you to rest from all your enemies.'"[2] I began to meditate on rest in conjunction with our Advent theme, “With Arms Outstretched.” True rest is found in the embrace of God. Allowing ourselves to find rest in that embrace enables us to make that rest available to others through our presence in their lives and by prayer. Ultimately, this inward rest given outward expression directs attention to the author of true rest and God is glorified.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible notes that these “statements [about rest from his enemies] are inconsistent with the accounts of David’s wars in chs. 8-20 and with 1Kings 5:3-4, which says that rest came only to Solomon.”[3] Consider this “inconsistency” in light of Advent when rest and the reality of the secular holiday season seem to conflict. Are we able to be both at rest and be present in unrest? In response to this question I hear the promise of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest … you will find rest for your souls.”[4] Jesus opens his arms to receive us and says come and find rest in me.

But we must come, so my prayer for us in this seemingly “inconsistent time” is, in the words of Charles Wesley:

Turn again, thou trembling Reed
To thine everlasting Rest,
Lean on [Christ] thy languid head,
Sink in the Beloved breast;
Lifting there the streaming eyes,
Tell [Christ] all thy wants and fears:
He shall all they wants supply,
He shall dry up all thy tears.[5]

May your hearts know rest in the God who Henri Nouwen notes “holds the whole of humanity in a compassionate embrace.”[6]

Elizabeth Guckenbiehl-Lang (MAT ’09) lives in Webster, N.Y. with her husband Joseph. Elizabeth is an active Seminary graduate and serves in a variety of ministries at her church, Community of the Savior, located in Rochester, N.Y.

[1] 2 Samuel 7:1, New King James Version.
[2] 2 Samuel 7:11, NKJV.
[3] Michael D. Coogan ed. et al., The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, 3rd ed., (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001) 2 Samuel 7:1, 456n7.1.
[4] Matthew 11:28-29, NKJV.
[5] Charles Wesley, The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley, Vol. 3, quoted in Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God (Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 2006), 397.
[6] Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery (New York, Doubleday, 1976), 144.

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