Isn’t it the case that often times, when we try and silence a message, it actually amplifies it?
Retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter was asked to speak during a Memorial Day ceremony in Hudson, Ohio this year and he prepared a speech that, at one point, specifically mentions the role of freed slaves in the history surrounding the holiday. Kemter meant to highlight that this community of freed slaves honored soldiers whose lives had ended during the span of the Civil War, but as he arrived at that point in his speech, his microphone went silent for around two minutes.
The culprit, oddly enough, was not a malfunction or faulty sound equipment, but it was the president of the local American Legion Auxiliary. This individual had asked Kemter to remove this particular section of his speech as it was not relevant to the program, but Kemter chose to leave it in and that is precisely when the president stepped in and censored him. Suffice it to say, both Kemter and the state Legion office believe this to be a violation of the freedom that this veteran fought for.
News outlets wasted no time in sharing the details of these circumstances which gave Kemter and his remembrance of both fallen soldiers and the freed slaves who honored their cause gained a far larger audience. This was one of those times that a message someone sought to silence actually amplified it and that had me thinking…
This time of year is incredibly difficult for so many. The span of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has a tendency to remind us of the pain of recent years, losses that we have experienced and are still processing, and where our hope comes from when it seems so far off from day-to-day. How frustrating that the season of Advent and the events that we celebrate actually brings on the heart-break even more distinctly than throughout the rest of the year.
And what is the message of the Advent? This word means “arrival” and celebrates the first coming of Jesus Christ, as well as instilling in us all an anticipation of His second coming. We are a “people walking in darkness [that] have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2a). We are “those living in the land of deep darkness [on whom] a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2b).
We look back to a child who was born that would be our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). His kingdom would be established and upheld with justice and righteousness and the zeal of the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 9:7). This is a wonderful thing to be celebrated, is it not?
However, in our broken humanity, our enemy seeks to silence this celebration in our lives and in our hearts. As we head into a season of exhilarating joy, we can feel a crippling sense of heartbreak. And in those moments, the enemy is seeking to “silence” and censor the message of the Gospel, if you will. However, the God of hope cannot be silenced and the great arc of history is marked so distinctly by the birth of a single Child. Through this singular event, sinful humanity was given our sign – the arrival of Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) – and His presence spoke the truth that God truly is with us. He bore your pain, heartache, and trials so that you might see freedom and that is a truth that is available to every one of us. Though your circumstances are so tangibly real, God literally came down to earth to experience it with you and He provides you hope in the midst of the worst of it.
As a local pastor/mentor of mine told me recently while processing deep pain in the life of someone I’m ministering to – “Be encouraged then friend. Remember, “Jehovah Jireh” literally means “God sees” or “God will see to it”. I like to combine their meanings into one: “The God who sees – will see to it”. So, even when I don’t know what is going on or you don’t know what to do next… the one who sees will see to it. May that truth strengthen you today.”
It has strengthened me and it has done so by amplifying the message of Christmas, simultaneously silencing the voice of the enemy and his distractions in my heart. Choose today to lean into our God who sees. He knows your situation and offers you hope in the midst of it all during this Advent season and beyond. When you feel the pain and loneliness the most, know that the God who sees will see to your circumstances and He will fill you with hope and peace as we anticipate both Christmas and the eventual arrival of Christ for His second coming where all of our tears will ultimately be wiped away.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff