The point of the project is simply to do what Dan Savage, the creator, wished he could have done for some of the young people he learned had died by suicide after being bullied so much and because they were so desperate. He believed that if he could have had just 5 minutes to bend their ear, if he could have had just 5 minutes to tell them, no matter how bad or how hard or how sad things were, that it would get better for them eventually; that then they might have had hope enough to stick it out.
He believed that if he could point to himself and others like him – grown, successful, happy, fulfilled adults who had struggled and suffered in similar ways – that they could serve as living proof that it really can and really does get better – that your school and your hometown, that your neighborhood and your Church (too much of the time), that your family and friends, even – don’t have to be forever; or bully you forever; or bring you down forever, or break your spirit forever.
And, as beautiful and as needed and as holy and as clever as I think “The It Gets Better Project” is, you and I both know you don’t have to be a kid, or LGBT or Q, or bullied or picked on or suicidal to need a reminder every once in awhile that “It Gets Better.” And I think that’s something like what Jesus is up to in today’s Gospel. I think that’s what these Advent days of waiting and hoping and preparing are all about for us.
Jesus says there will be signs… there will be distress among nations… there will be confusion about the roaring of the seas. He says there will be fear and foreboding and that the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And he promises this to each and every one of us – without exception. And it’s enough to make you wonder, “What’s wrong?” Or, “What’s next?” Or, “What’s the point?” And “Why bother?”
And I think those are good questions. The world around us is a hard, harsh place to be a lot of the time. I’m am actually scared about the roaring of the sea and the waves. I’m worried about the political divide in our own country and the very real distress among the nations of our world. I’m concerned about all of the sickness and struggle on our prayer list. And I know enough to be curious and concerned, too, about all the things that don’t even make that list. It’s tempting to believe that not much has changed since Jesus did his thing on the planet.
But Jesus did do his thing on the planet – and that means everything has changed; everything is changed; everything will be changed by the hope with which we are called to wait in these days. Everything will be changed by the hope for which we are called to wait. And that really is Jesus’ point this morning – and our hope for Advent, in Christ’s coming.
He says, “raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Stand tall. Hold fast. And he talks about trees that sprout leaves as signs and reminders that summer is near; as signs and promises that change is coming. And he uses that as an example for us that the same is true for what God is up to in the world. We’re meant to live with hope in the belief that God is always up to something among us.
And with the coming of Jesus we’re supposed to begin waiting and watching and working for God’s purpose among us. We are meant to see just how far God is willing to go for the sake of healing and love and redemption: the Creator of the world would go as far as a manger in Bethlehem; the Son of God would go as far as a cross on Calvary; the Messiah of all things would go as far as a tomb outside of Jerusalem, even – all so we would know, so we would trust, so we would hope, so we would share the news that nothing can separate us from that kind of grace, for us and for the sake of the world.
In these Advent days – in the midst of the darkness and struggle and sadness that may surround us more often than we’d like to admit – we are called to hope and pray and live as though the kingdom of God is just around the corner, that the Kingdom of God is already among us, really … that it has, that it does, that it will always get better, thanks to the new life that comes in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.