Megan Ramer joined the ministry team of Seattle Mennonite Church as Lead Pastor this past September, after a decade of pastoral ministry in Chicago. She is a graduate of Iliff School of Theology in Denver and Goshen (Ind.) College before that. Reading and hiking are some of her favorite restorative activities. She also enjoys making baby quilts, going to concerts, frequenting the theater to see her actor husband, Jon Stutzman, perform, and going on traveling adventures both large and small.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Never before has one bite of banana taken so long to chew and tasted so wretched.
One of my tricks, when stumped about what to write, is to start writing all the things I know to be true. Right now what I know to be true can pretty much be summed up with this: I feel miserable.
It’s day nine. Day nine of no appetite. None. Zilch. The taste, smell, sight, and even thought of food repulses me. Consequently, I feel weak, occasionally dizzy, often hangry, and always pathetic.
And if I’m honest, I’m pretty miffed about the whole thing. Advent is a particularly terrible time for a pastor to be down for the count this long. A pastor friend assures me that the most powerful Advent and Christmas services she’s experienced were the ones when she was most broken. “I don’t know why God works that way, but it’s true,” she texts me.
Perhaps, in faith, I’ll add this to the list of things I know to be true: 1) I feel miserable, and (by proxy) 2) God works powerfully through our brokenness.
May it be so. May it be true. Because if there’s one thing this old world’s got in spades, it’s brokenness.
The prophet Isaiah dreams and pens a Peaceable Realm of startling harmony. Predator and prey become pals—grazing together, eating vegetarian, napping next to one another. Wolf and baby sheep, leopard and baby goat, lion and baby cow; all these unlikely bedfellows will be led by a human child. “They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.”
What has been broken will be restored. What has been breached will be bridged. What has been dissonant will be brought into startling harmony. “For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
May it be so. May it be true. Because my intrepid little stomach bug is the puniest of our sorrows. Just in my little circles there’s chronic illness, terrible prognoses, miscarriage, suicide, debilitating mental illness and fatal shootings. You’ve surely got your own list from your own circles. Then there’s the murky soup in which we all swim: terror, Islamaphobia, white supremacy and transphobia, just to name a few.
In a world of brokenness, divisiveness, abusive powers, and predator-prey behavior in human individuals, communities, and corporations, I need this vision of God’s coming shalom-salaam community. I need to know this to be true: that harmony is possible.
More than that: that harmony is coming. Even now. That God still says: Stop. Everybody lives, and no one has to devour anyone else to be here. Everybody lives and thrives on my holy mountain.
Christ is coming. Into our broken world. Add it to the short list of things I know. I see evidence when Mennonites and Muslims, Sufis and Quakers pray together. I see evidence when faith communities open their doors to provide winter shelter for those living on the streets. I see evidence when a gun is beaten into a garden tool. And that only scratches the surface on the evidence all around. Christ is coming into our broken world.
As a sick pastor during Advent, thank God it isn’t my job to make Christ come; I just point to the evidence of Christ’s coming when I see it. And I pay attention when you point to it. When we together bear witness to Christ’s coming into our broken world, I must say, I feel just a little less miserable.
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