This week, Serena Williams (yes – the retired tennis star, super athlete, entrepreneur, cultural icon, and mother of two) posted on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “I am not ok today. And that’s ok to not be ok. No one is ok every single day. If you are not ok today I’m with you. There’s always tomorrow. Love you.” It went viral.
There was no explanation for what Williams may have been going through when posting on November 28. There was no need for an explanation. Her statement made an important point all in itself (maybe, for someone, even a life-or-death point): it is ok to feel what we feel, including when we feel *not ok.* And it’s absolutely ok to be honest about our experiences, even when they may not be what others want to hear from us.
If anywhere should be safe enough for this to be true, it should be church.
We begin the season of Advent on Sunday. It’s a new church year and a fresh start in our spiritual journey. The word literally means “coming,” as we await the gift of God’s own self to come be with us in the world through Christ. Advent is a season of anticipation, of hope, of seeking light.
It is also a season of honesty: a time to be really real when things are not ok and when we are not ok. We can add our cares and cries and laments and longings with those hearts of countless others past and present. We can ask God to come to us and help us.
The first words we’ll hear from Scripture Sunday will set the tone: The prophet Isaiah cries out to God on behalf of God’s own people, “If only you would tear open the heavens and come down…” Isaiah will go on to describe the frustration of swinging wildly between hopefulness and despair, between God’s salvation and an overwhelming sense of judgment. The prophet is not ok. The people are not ok. We might not be ok.
And it is ok to say so.
I invite us to embrace a mode of personal and collective honesty this Advent. Be real with yourself, with others, with God. Lay it out when things are ok and when things are not ok. And be safe for others who are trying to tell it, too.
There’s always tomorrow. That’s what we’re hoping for, and it’s why we wait.
The Rev. R. Scott Painter, Rector