First Tuesday of Advent: Temporary Fix
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
—Luke 1:46-55 (Read Luke 1)
As a kid in the ’70s, oral hygiene was not my forte. I was much too busy walking down Madison Avenue to the corner store for a stick of sugar cane, collecting rejected mirrors from the factory dumpster behind our house, or planning my route up the fire escape of the “Puerto Rican house” during our nightly games of SWAT.
Eight o’clock always came too early.
Don’t get me wrong. Just before bedtime, I loved to sneak a sweet cinnamony fingerful of Close-Up toothpaste from the upstairs bathroom cabinet. But as for brushing, I don’t remember much more than being handed my toothbrush on the way to my biannual checkup at Dr. Meekma’s dental office.
And I’ve never forgotten that in 1976, I had six cavities that needed six fillings.
I’ve improved my brushing habits since then, but with a start like that, it’s no wonder that my adult years have included a good amount of dental work. A few years ago, when Dr. Johnson finished my root canal, he placed a temporary crown. In went the shiny blue articulation paper.
Bite and grind. Bite and grind.
“That looks pretty good to me. How does it feel to you?”
“Uh phink is okay.”
Day one wasn’t bad. Painkillers helped. The next morning was worse. My jaw ached. With the Novocaine now worn off, it was obvious to me that I could not close my mouth. The temporary crown was a bit high and its tooth-mate was the only place my upper and lower teeth touched.
My jaw muscles could not rest or relax.
By day two, I was in agony. I went in to the dentist so that he could hook me up to a low frequency machine that would vibrate and relax my jaw muscles. There was some relief during the procedure, but on my way home, the pain returned. So I tried other props, like a mouthguard cut in half, but nothing helped. For two nights I slept in the recliner and whimpered and moaned and cried out to God. It was the worst pain I have expereienced in my life. And I’ve had three kids!
Finally, I returned for my permanent crown. Out with the old, in with the new. It was an immediate fix. I was able to close my mouth, rest my upper teeth on my lower ones, and feel the tension dissolve in my cheeks and jaws.
Perhaps the difference was millimeters, but those millimeters made all the difference. When it was right, all the wrong fell away. This shape of this tooth was exactly what was needed.
Everything else was a temporary fix, or no fix at all.
There is so much pain in our world. So much needs to be fixed. We look for solutions in many places—in our own abilities, education, science, the latest self-help book, relationships, and political leaders. Some of these help a bit, or maybe for a while, but soon enough we find that the discomfort, the pain, the brokenness remain.
What we try to do for ourselves is a temporary fix, or no fix at all.
When Mary rocked the baby Messiah in her arms, did she sense that exactly what was needed had come to the world?
I believe she did.
In her song, it seems so clear that her words of praise burst from the depths of her knowledge that finally the right one—the Mighty One, the Holy One—had arrived on the scene. Every idol and earthly ruler was incomplete. All the laws the Israelites tried to keep paled in relation to the Messiah, the promised one. It was all a temporary fix, or no fix at all.
Emmanuel is who we needed.
God with us, the one who extends mercy, performs mighty deeds, lifts the humble, fills the hungry, and does—and is—all that was promised. And when the right comes, everything wrong falls away.
Is it any wonder she burst into song?
Cami Haley works for the CCO as Support Raising Ministry Coordinator and for Gundersen Health System Inpatient Rehab as a Registered Nurse.