crisis: 1 a : the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever b : a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function c : an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life – a midlife crisis
2 : the decisive moment (as in a literary plot) – The crisis of the play occurs in Act 3.
3 a : an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending: especially : one with the district possibility of a highly undesirable outcome – a financial crisis – the nation’s energy crisis b : a situation that has reached a critical phase – the environmental crisis – the unemployment crisis
This is what the Miriam – Webster Dictionary has to say about the word crisis. It implies a temporary state of affairs, a state of transition. Critical, yes, but a passing phase in a process.
Recently in listening to the NPR program “Marketplace,” the commentator was talking about what is going on in the economies of Brazil and Argentina. We were told that these two economies are experiencing “low levels of crisis.”
A low level of crisis? What is a low level of crisis? Crisis by definition is an intense state of change or distress. Low levels of crisis. What is that? How can crisis be at a low level when it is specifically a time that is critical? Crisis is also a time of transition, a temporary state, and low levels of crisis somehow sounds on going. Can there be a low level of crisis?
Well, while I can’t defend the phrase “low levels of crisis” I feel like this is what we are living. It seems like we are in an ongoing low level of crisis. With the natural environment unraveling around us and mass shootings an almost daily occurrence and the growing wealth gap and the escalation in hate crimes and prejudice, it seems like we are living in a continuous low level of crisis. (I am not including the impeachment in this list because that is a genuine crisis.)
The celebration of the birth of Jesus is a reminder of a turning point, a radical change, a significant event. With this birth we are given the way to peace, to wholeness, to joy, to meaning, to life in all its fullness and abundance. We don’t have to live in low level crisis mode any more because Jesus has been born. He has given us another way. We are free to create our own reality of hope and promise. We do not have to let ourselves be buffeted by the messages around us that seek to destabilize us and make us fearful so that we are easier to control. May we embrace the temporary critical crisis that is Advent so that we may make the decisive change to living God’s dream of “Peace on earth, good will to all.”
Prayer During these Advent days, may we live into God’s reality of life and blessing for all. May we be part of dismantling the systems and power structures that diminish life. May we give ourselves over to the way of love. Amen.