Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Coming Soon: Stay Tuned!
Have you ever been watching a great TV show, and suddenly it ends on a cliffhanger? The dual feeling of disappointment that it's over and resolved and the anticipation for what happens next resounds suddenly out of the sound of a gasp or the throwing up of our hands. Our minds begin to wander and wonder about the possibilities of what is to come for the characters, the story, and how we may feel about it.
Or what about the feeling you get after a trailer/preview for a movie? You see the characters on screen again, you remember the plot that surely will tie up loose ends and take the story further. You begin to anticipate the continuation, or the beginning, the end, of a story, a journey, a life...
Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, the season of the Church in which the birth of Christ is anticipated. The Church does not simply wait to celebrate Christmas, but prepares itself for the breaking in of God in flesh with us in a newborn baby. It is kind of like a movie trailer or preview. Advent provides the means to prepare, to anticipate, to wait...
I love the season of Advent because it is counter-cultural to wait. It seems nowadays, with the world at our fingertips, we have become impatient; we have lost the beauty in preparing, anticipating, for waiting. The season of Advent allows me to build up my excitement for Christmas! The words that we reflect on in the Church--hope, love, joy, peace, Christ--help me to wait well. This kind of waiting does not yield questions (like the ones I used to utter in the car on road trips) "are we there yet?" "why is it taking so long?" "can't you go any faster?" No, Advent yields questions like "what beauty lies in waiting?" "how is God preparing me to receive Christ" or "what will I do once Christ is here?"
The gospel lesson this week is Mark 13:24-37. Take a moment to read it...
The passage talks about the second coming of Christ; when Jesus will come again in all of his power and glory. In a preview scene of the coming of Christ, a fig tree's branch becomes tender and puts forth it leaves, and summer breaks through...
This passage is not about Jesus being born at Christmas, but it is about God coming into this world in a new way. We are waiting for that day, and we can anticipate, prepare, and wait for that day just like we wait for Christmas in Advent. In this way, our life is an Advent as we purposefully wait for Christ to come again. And the best of all is that God is with us...we have this hope.
Come thou long-expected Jesus,
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
*Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, United Methodist Hymnal, 196.