One hears the phrase “fiscal cliff” so often these days that I now find myself looking for guard rails on every street and avenue, even though here in Savannah there’s no such thing as a cliff within a good day’s drive.
Uncertainty as to the depth of the chasm leads one to pray that those we’ve elected might have sense to avert the looming disaster. This might be a slender hope, since the group in Washington is largely the same group that created the so-called cliff in the first place. Their ability to avert disaster will indicate whether we have the discipline and discernment to govern ourselves.
What I find interesting is that the time frame for avoiding this cliff coincides precisely with the season of Advent and Christmas. Our lame-duck legislators have roughly five weeks to pull us out of the tailspin of this fiscal disaster scheduled to begin Jan. 2, just about the time many are packing the Christmas décor, taking the tree out to the chipper and preparing for the visitation of the Magi.
Our lawmakers, once having had the luxury of more than a year to address this issue, now need to resolve it while those in the church are lighting advent candles, repenting of sin, anticipating the victorious return of the Messiah, cherishing Old Testament prophecy, singing Christmas carols, reading Luke 2, rejoicing over the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph and singing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
Meanwhile those in the synagogue will be lighting Hanukkah candles and remembering the miraculous supply of olive oil in the Second Temple.
The halls of Congress may or may not be decked with boughs of holly or enlightened with a miraculous supply of holy olive oil these days, but people of the Christmas faith know that though kingdoms rise and fall, the Son of Man will reign forever and ever while the sons and daughters of the Temple remember that no earthly power ultimately holds sway.
One of the texts we read at Advent and Christmas, citing Old Testament prophecy, proclaims that those sitting in darkness have seen a great light. Even though our nation is often divided about the cause of the darkness, we can at least mostly agree that our vision has grown rather feeble these days.
The fiscal cliff is of our own making and whereas our legislators may get us back on track, I’m suspecting we won’t drive too far down the road before another cliff will be looming.
The cliffs we face, many self-constructed and others looming through no fault of our own, threaten to undo us and so we take them seriously. But we also scoff at these cliffs this season when we are reminded of the eternal truth that though we might plunge to the very depths, people of faith cannot but fall into the hands of a loving, creating God.
Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.