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Advent brings freedom, even from abuse

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Something big was happening in the wilderness around the Jordan River about 2,000 years ago. It was a big deal and had the attention of the people. Mark 1:5 states “All the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to [John the Baptist] and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan.”  

We often expect important matters to happen in cities, not in hamlets or the wilderness. Something very important was taking place, though. The wilderness would never be the same when the message of freedom, hope, and peace began to transform lives.  

God had not sent a prophet to his people, Israel, in nearly 400 years. Then John began to preach and baptize at the Jordan. Something was happening. Someone was coming. Preparations were being made. The people were called to get themselves ready for something new and big.  

We have seen some modern examples of a small stirring of activity and prophetic proclamation which led to dramatic results. Martin Luther King, Jr. made bold proclamations and the foundations of racism began to crack. Desmond Tutu and other South Africans preached the gospel, and apartheid came tumbling down. President Ronald Reagan implored the Soviet Union to “Tear down this wall” in East Berlin, and the effects rippled through Europe and beyond.  

Today, #MeToo is producing an unprecedented volume of those who have been sexually harassed or assaulted to speak out and take a stand against their abusers. Those with a commitment to truth will no longer remain silent and now seek to end victimization at the hands of abusers. Something dark and unspoken, something private and a matter of undeserved shame, something many are afraid to acknowledge, is now being brought into the open.  

Something big is happening here. Within 24 hours of actress Alyssa Milano’s tweeting #MeToo, nearly half a million retweets were posted. The effects have reached the House and Senate, state and local governments and corporate America, and have rocked the fabric of Hollywood.  

We must remember not everyone who has been a victim of these abuses is willing to tweet this information for all to see. Some are still mustering the courage and strength to speak up. Some will decide not to break the silence. Sadly, still others may remain in the darkness, feeling unable to take a stand.  

The work of John was to prepare the way of Jesus to redeem his people. Jesus’ ministry was designed to free those held captive to sin (their own and the effects of others’), provide hope to those in darkness, and deliver comfort and peace to all who are afflicted. 

Advent is a season intended to remind us of the waiting and longing of a people ready for change. Israel was ready for a breaking of the silence; they were looking for a prophetic voice and a rescuer.  

Please know that if you have been affected by sexual harassment or assault, there are safe people for you to talk with at JBER. Chaplain corps members are available for confidential conversations, for you to share your experiences and encourage you on the journey toward healing.  

Many of those who have been harassed or assaulted feel they are living in the wilderness. There is freedom for all who are suffering from the effects of actions others perpetrated upon you. You do not need to live in exile or remain in silence. Perhaps the best effect of #MeToo is that you know that you are no longer alone.  

As the effects of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection began to spread across the countryside, the good news of freedom, hope, and peace spread as well. Please know standing up, speaking out and breaking the silence  can open the doors to incredible freedom and hope, and eventually bring about unspeakable peace.  

Something big is happening to those in the wilderness of isolation and shame – all across the nation. Freedom, hope, and peace are available this Advent. The waiting is over, it is time to stand up and it is time to speak out. It is time to tell the truth and bring into the light those things long held in darkness.  

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