Skip to main content

starting in darkness

advent is quickly approaching. this sunday will be the first week of the season of waiting. now i understand that we still have thanksgiving yet, and believe me, i will be thoroughly enjoying the day of gratitude and time with my family, but as a pastor i have to be planning for sunday, so my thoughts today are on advent.
...
i love advent. not because i love waiting so much as that it seems to stir in me some connection to the ancients: i feel a kinship with generations long gone who clung to their hope. for me, that's what advent is about finally: hope. in a very basic and literal way its about waiting for a messiah, and in an even more basic and literal way its about waiting through a pregnancy for the birth of a baby; but in a more metaphorical way, advent, for me, is the place of our hearts where we long for light to enter darkness, redemption to replace brokenness, and life to emerge, even if kicking and screaming, if for no other reason than to send death running off with its tail tucked between its legs.
...
advent, of course, doesn't really start in the light. it begins in the darkness, when death (who you might also know as despair or fear or lonliness or some other cursed name) is your close companion. and then, in a moment of genius, or desperation, or foolishness, you give birth to some hopeful thought, some ember of warmth in your tired heart, some speck of light, and you pray some form of the advent prayer: come, lord jesus! come!
...
maybe you just barely whisper it. or maybe you weep it. or shout it into the dark pit of the mercilessly cold dark sky. maybe you deliver it like a baby, with labored pain and risk. maybe you half chuckle at yourself as you say it, surprised by your audacity. maybe you can barely cough it out. but somehow, someway, you do. right there in the midst of your pain; in your moment or season of darkness or grief or shame or fear or whatever you call it, you dare to speak out into the darkness and give messy birth to words and warmth and light and hope: come lord jesus. come.
...
and that is advent.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

thankful right now

"if the only prayer you ever say in your life is 'thank you,' it will be enough." -Meister Eckhart

"thanksgiving is inseparable from prayer." -John Wesley

i've been thinking about gratitude quite a bit this week, and how to foster a thankful spirit in the midst of the barrage of bad news that for me is punctuated by yet another "breaking news" notification on my phone, interrupting the busyness of my day to rudely remind me that the world's brokenness knows nothing of limits or boundaries, not to mention my schedule or sanity.  still, the bad news keeps coming. 

i just scrolled through my most recent notifications just from the last few days and they contain phrases like "crimes against humanity," "57 million users hacked, but not reported," "alleged pattern of sexual abuse," and "extremely disturbing," just to name a few.  how am i supposed to be present at a staff meeting when my phone is buzzing …