Day 7

December 3

December 3

Revelation 1:7-8

7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. So it is to be. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

A Holy Perspective

by Monique Ingalls, Ph.D.

“Mom, what is ‘regret’?”

Surprised by the question, I glanced in the rear-view mirror at my five-year-old daughter. We were listening to her favorite song “It Could’ve Been Me” from the Sing II film soundtrack. (I may be a church music professor, but I’ll admit to enjoying head-bopping with my kids to bubble-gum pop in the car on the way home from school.) As the song’s pre-chorus came around again, I heard the lyrics where she had heard the word in question:

Wrapped in your regret /
What a waste of blood and sweat

In the context of the film, the song’s narrator Porsha (who happens to be a bushy-tailed wolf in an alien costume) is voicing her desire not to waste her life by lacking the courage of her convictions. She resolves not to miss any of the opportunities that life gives her.

I can’t remember how I answered my daughter in that moment in the car. But after reflecting on the first chapter of Revelation, I know how I would respond now.

In today’s passage from Revelation, in John the Revelator’s exhortation to the churches in Asia, we are given perhaps the ultimate picture of regret. In verse 7, John combines two quotations from Old Testament prophecies, “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” (Daniel 7:13) and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” (Zechariah 12:10). Though these passages were long understood to describe the Coming of the Messiah, John reinterprets them as referring to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the Age. Those who do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord, the “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world,” will see Him highly exalted and will mourn in anguish, as a sense of deep, abiding regret engulfs them.

While those who follow Jesus may be spared this eternal regret, Advent is a time to reflect on whether our attitudes and actions are causing us to miss opportunities in our relationship with God and with the people of God. Are we wasting the limited time we have been given on meaningless pursuits, our labor on what does not satisfy (Isaiah 55:2)? Is pride or unforgiveness hurting our relationships with our fellow pilgrims? Is the drying up of our prayers amidst the clamor of daily life causing us to miss an experience of Divine presence? (As the gospel hymn observes, “Oh, what peace we often forfeit / Oh, what needless pain we bear! / All because we do not carry / everything to God in prayer.”) In a quest for ways to dull the pain of existence, have we lost our commitment to the Healer and to His Body on earth?

This Advent, as we reflect on our sources of regret, may we renew our hope in the God who is, and who was, and who forever will be. May we trust in the God whose path can direct us away from regrets, large and small. May we commit to imitating our God, whose love “never fails / never gives up / never runs out on us.”

Learn More About Our Guest Writer

Monique Ingalls, Ph.D.Monique Ingalls, Ph.D.

Monique Ingalls, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Music for Baylor’s School of Music, joining the Baylor church music faculty in 2014. Dr. Ingalls’s research examines the effects of 20th and 21st century social, cultural, and technological changes on Christian communities through the lens of congregational music-making, both in and beyond North America. Her work has been published in journals, encyclopedias, and edited books in several fields, including ethnomusicology, media studies, hymnology, religious studies, and ecclesiology.

Dr. Ingalls is dedicated to building collaborative research networks for the study of Christian music and religious music more broadly. Dr. Ingalls’s courses on music in Christian communities draw insights from music studies, anthropology, media studies, and practical theology. In addition to her classical training as a pianist and choral singer, she has also enjoyed stints as a cover band keyboardist, a Javanese gamelan percussion player, and a singer of traditional polyphony from the Republic of Georgia. Prior to her appointment at Baylor, she spent three years as a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Cambridge. From 2014-2015, she was appointed Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. Dr. Ingalls resides in North Waco with her husband, daughters, and cat, and serves as Music Liturgist for Holy Spirit Episcopal Church.