Monday, December 1, 2014

Adventure And Advent

Advent is about waiting. Yet it is an active waiting. Like an adventure where we know something is coming but we have to struggle to get it. We want to get to the end quickly yet God takes us on a journey. Often we don't understand it. The first part of this week's second reading is from 1 Peter 3. It goes like this:
Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you,not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.
I hate this passage. We are looking to make spiritual progress and God might decide to delay something 1000 years? I know it is likely hyperbole but still. Franklin the Turtle is a character in a series of children's books. Once he asks his parents for a pet and they say they will think about it. Franklin comments that his mom and dad could think about things for a long time. I feel a bit like that when I read this. 

We need to understand patience. Patience is the lack of sorrow at slow spiritual progress. That does not mean we are inactive. John the Baptist was not inactive. He was looking forward to the coming of Jesus yet he was preaching very effectively. Mark even says, "All the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River." That is obviously more hyperbole but he is describing a hugely effective ministry.  

This is the sort of patience we need this Advent. A patience that makes big changes in our lives to prepare for the coming of Jesus. John always points to the future but he lives the present radically. Living in the dessert. Eating locusts. Wearing camel's hair. The Messiah is coming. We have to repent.

This is the way we need to be in our spiritual walk. We have a new liturgical year starting. We have a new birth of Jesus into our lives and our hearts. Those crooked paths need to be made straight. If you have ever tried to reroute a road or a path you know it is not an easy thing to take something that is crooked and make it straight. You pretty much have to rip it all up and rebuild it. 

That is what Advent is about. To rip up those old paths that you know are crooked but you have just gotten used to them. Dig them up and put in a new straight path that is ready for the Lord to come. We hear it every year but we need to do it. 

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