Sunday, December 8, 2013

advent reflection 2013.2 Wait for it...
I'm terrible at waiting.  Waiting for a late bus, waiting in line anywhere, sometimes even waiting to fall asleep - these are not the parts of my day that I enjoy.  Yet whether I like it or not, there is a lot of waiting to be done in life.  Daily I must wait in both short and long time frames: 30 seconds for a light to change, or years for my self to change.  In fact, often my deepest desires require me to wait.

If time is money, then waiting is expensive.  Thus lack of patience is easily justified.  But focusing on the bad parts of waiting and becoming frustrated is the wrong attitude.  Perhaps that is why we need a whole season of the church to learn a better posture.

Advent is about waiting.  To anticipate a coming - or an advent - implicitly requires waiting.  Just as the people of Israel waited centuries in exile, longing for a Savior, for their God to remember them, so too Christians await the return of Christ.  During this season we deliberately place ourselves within both of these narratives.  We wait.

A few times in the last week Advent broke into my daily waiting.  "It's ok, Bethany," I reminded myself, standing in a coffee shop line, "it's ok to wait.  This is good practice."  A few seconds later, however, I found myself wishing I had picked a different time to get coffee.  Clearly I need to let the Advent mindset sink deeper.

It is in the long things, the big things, that I feel it most acutely.  For example, I don't feel I have "the gift of singleness" (whatever that means!), but here I am, quite unmistakably single.  Some days waiting - and trusting God that this timing is best - is difficult.

Trust.  Two people suggested to me last week that God uses the waiting in our lives to bring us closer in relationship to him.  In this way Advent is about a much richer waiting than we might first imagine.  During Advent we wait for something.  But I think we have reason to hope that there is also something to be gained through the waiting.

p.s. some interesting facts about waiting in line.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

advent reflection 2013.1

the road home
While driving this week to visit my family for Thanksgiving, I listened to a sermon from Church of the Resurrection in DC.  Preaching on Mark 1, Matthew Mason spoke of repentance as a turning in allegiance to Christ the King.  For me it was a fitting beginning to the season of Advent.

As we anticipate the coming of Christ, it is good to remember how Mark prepares his readers to receive the gospel of Christ:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 
 “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
 who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
 ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
 make his paths straight,’”  
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. [...]
 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:1-4,14-15)
Why start this way?  This prophecy is a proclamation of a coming King, a King who is God himself.  As a messenger running before a victorious king, so John came to tell God's people the good news that their king had come.

It is good to reflect on this good news during Advent, and to prepare the way in our lives.

This repentance is a turning in more ways than one.  It is, in the sense above, a turn in allegiance.  If there was any previous sovereign, now that king must be turned away from, for now the true King of all kings has come.

It also involves a turning of the heart and mind.  We must turn from those things that once captivated, that held our love or fear or allegiance.  Turning, we hope to find ourselves facing Christ.

Each year I am grateful for this season of repentance and preparation.  For me this year it looks to be one in which I reflect upon my allegiance.  Am I living like the King has come?  Do I hope for his return?

I pray that God would graciously help to turn me.  Where I have false allegiance, that he would have mercy.  Where I need to change, that he would help to bring it about.

I return to the old favourite hymn sung in church this morning:
Come, thou long-expected Jesus...
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.