December 2015 – Waiting for new life

Advent is a season designed for waiting and preparing for new life, new birth. Waiting and preparing for Jesus… Which, like preparing for any human birth, is not something we can completely control or do all according to personal preferences and schedules.

Advent means waiting and preparing for Jesus. Jesus is different. Jesus is not concerned, for example, about what’s popular or in style. When we wait for Jesus, prepare for Jesus, make ready our hearts and lives for Jesus, we’re often going to be out of step with a lot of what’s going on around us. And Jesus has rather different standards for assessing what’s worthwhile. When we prioritize new life with Jesus we’re seldom going to have anything really objective to show for our efforts in the short-term, when this year’s Advent and Christmas are over.

Nothing, that is, except more peace of mind and contentment of heart. And a deeper, richer sense of beloved community and God’s presence.

Still, even knowing all the potential blessings of Advent – it’s not so easy to spend four weeks focused on waiting for Jesus in this culture, which stresses rational plans with concrete goals and objectives, measurable rewards and benefits. The marketeers and merchandisers of the secular Christmas know this well. They feed us their version of the Christmas seasonal message unceasingly… And the incessant background buzz of the marketing season is always there in the public space, just about always this time of year.

Katelyn Beatty, managing editor of Christanity Today, notes that those of us who seek to live differently often find ourselves perplexed about how to proceed, and seeking to counter the commercial Christmas season with “wow” activities and programs that actually mimic and subtly buy-in to the marketing approaches of the Christmas Industry. Beatty writes:

“It’s like we don’t trust the incarnation to sell itself. And maybe that’s our problem. The trick about the incarnation–God becoming man–is that it can’t be sold, scheduled, or enjoyed in the way a glass of eggnog or a new gadget can. It refuses to bend to the rules of the market. It can only be beheld.”

And we can only really behold the awesome mystery of the incarnation, God-with-us in Jesus Christ, by living incarnationally. Becoming mothers and midwives of the birth of Christ. Making room for Christ to live and grow within ourselves and our families, neighborhoods, and communities. Practicing prayer, bible reading, quiet time with God, time in worship with others, time giving of ourselves…Till we find ourselves saying “Yes” to God more and more readily… Till we can say, with Mary, mother of Jesus, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me, according to your word.”

My prayer is that we’ll accompany each other faithfully in this Advent and Christmas journey, and really enjoy all the blessings of Christ’s gracious presence.

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you every day of this beautiful season and beyond…

Pastor Tim