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.


Popular posts from this blog


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 …

vote. and pray. but do not be afraid (the King is alive).

i'm not sure how many americans right now are feeling optimistic about the government.  i know i'm not.  in fact, while i didn't live through the civil war or anything, i have to think that faith in our elected leaders - indeed the whole system of electing them in the first place - is at one of its lowest points.  i just don't have a great deal of confidence in those individuals who have been elected, or in those who want to be.  i find myself slipping at times into what feels like a swamp of apathy: sinking, to be sure, but not sure that i care enough anymore to do much about it.  i see this attitude all around me: in conversations, on social media, and in popular culture.  perhaps there is no more clear indication of our nation's view of the government than this current election season, when we would teeter on electing liars and thieves, crooks and clowns. 

which is why i was so startled as i sat down to read psalm 72 this morning. as i read the ancient song, i…