Red means stop. Green means go. Everybody knows that. In a scene from a TV sitcom of the ’80s, Taxi, Jim, the burned-out former junkie cab driver asked another character, “What does the yellow light mean?” Answer, “Slow down.” Jim responded out of his usual fog, “What…does…the…yellow…light…mean?”
The ‘yellow light’ is telling us to slow down. It is a time, a moment, when we may prepare ourselves for something both anticipated and unexpected. But is the ‘yellow light’, the sign that we are to ‘slow down’ and watch, wait, for the in breaking of God into our ordinary lives? You know how easy it is to become distracted when someone is talking to us, but we have lots of other things on our mind. It might even happen during a sermon if there’s people or activities to be tended to following worship. The world does not want us to slow down at all. If anything, we are urged to hurry and get everything done as soon as possible. Maybe we can even do more than last year.
Is God not present in our everyday lives already? Have eyes not seen, have ears not heard, of the miraculous things taking place in our world this very day? We are easily distracted by the bad news of the world. Snowstorms, floods, fires, wars, disease, poverty, violence, hatred, the bad news can be such an overwhelming and ongoing streaming of words and pictures that we block them out. We look for escapes like shopping, TV, movies, games, whatever will allow us to forget.
Paul’s words to the church at Corinth seem to the point and appropriate for us all. Using Eugene Peterson’s translation, The Message, Paul wrote, “I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you – it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives. Just think – you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus.”
There’s no reason to think that we are alone in this world. There’s no way that all the bad news is the last word. We don’t need to escape into ‘stuff’. There are all kinds of ways that we can participate in the Incarnation, God’s in breaking into the world, during this season of Advent. Envision the ‘yellow light’, breathe deeply and step back enough to see and hear what is already taking place. Be bold and use the gifts you have been given remembering that you have free and open access to God, who is at your side.
God. In those moments just before dawn, the earth is silent, holding its breath, waiting. Give me strong silence, God. Deep silence. Give me the quiet that can calm the world. Amen.