Prayers4Peace: First Sunday of Advent 2023

Our Daily Tears, First Sunday of Advent 2023
Written by Kevin Vollrath

Readings:  

Isaiah 64:1-9 | Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 | 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 | Mark 13:24-37

You have fed them with the bread of tears,
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
– Psalm 80:5

Have you ever asked God for your daily tears? 

Have you ever scorned daily tears? 

Have you ever found nourishment in daily tears?

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter; 
we are all the work of your hand.
– Isaiah 64:8

Sometimes, working in advocacy, it feels like all our clay can do is become a bottle for tears, our own or our neighbor’s, collecting them one by one, drop by drop.

It may look as ordinary as any other bowl; it’s liquid like any other water. Not everyone who sees a bowl of tears appreciates the time and care it requires– but those who know, know. 

May these tears nourish us while we wait for justice. May every drop be recorded in God’s register (Psalm 56:8), waiting for the time to be wiped away and avenged. 

Perhaps this is the clay our Messiah was molded into: 

Bread broken

Wine poured

Tears stored

Reflection 

Artwork by Corinne Whitlatch, Glass artist and former executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace.

These two works of art are hugely symbolic. The piece on the left is entitled “Middle East Peace Process Carousel,” and on the right, “Hebron Architecture of Fire and Water.” 

  • Both feature repeating motifs, interlocking sections, and bright imagery. What stands out to you about these pieces?
  • How do they represent a part of a story from Scripture, an experience you have had in the Middle East, or a feeling you associate with peacebuilding? 
  • Observe the cycle present in both pieces; as we remember Christ’s birth, we are also reminded about the cycle of our lives. Reflect on these concepts and what the phrase “Daily Tears” may mean in this context. 
  • In light of this reflection, ask yourself once more: 
    • Have you ever asked God for your daily tears? 
    • Have you ever scorned daily tears? 
    • Have you ever found nourishment in daily tears?

*Notes on art: Hebron Architecture of Fire and Water evokes the story of God saving Abraham from Nimrod’s pyre by transforming fire into water and embers into fish; fruits signify hope for abundance. The outer white arches reflect old city architecture. Scraps of broken cobalt, cast medallions, and fish were gifts from local glassblowers.

In 2018, Whitlatch spoke to hundreds of art lovers as they studied her work. She explained the motivation behind her creation, and described the endless struggle for Israeli-Palestinian peace which seems to start and stop, going around and around in circles and never getting anywhere. 

“I’m just so tired of words. I wanted to visualize the peace process and how long it’s been going on,” Whitlatch explained. She pointed out the ring of fire, the Hebron glass fish border, the white and black horses, goat and zebra, along with wine glass stems and the Palestinian ceramic plate she used to create her design. (https://www.wrmea.org/2018-august-september/corinne-whitlatchs-middle-east-peace-process-carousel.html)


About the Author: Kevin is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Society. He holds a BA in philosophy from the University of Chicago and a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. His dissertation uses ethnographic methods to describe experiences of disability in Bethlehem, occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and to construct a theology of hope and knowledge informed by fieldwork.

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