Days of Anticipation

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

Today is the first day of Advent.
Growing up this meant that the songs we sang in choir at church began to change.
It meant that at some point, our family would probably be asked to walk an embarrassing, long walk down the long red carpeted aisle of our 100 year old Presbyterian church; one of us, probably my dad (he is the man, after all) or me (I was the one who enjoyed the sound of her own voice) would read a passage from the Bible.
Then one of us, probably my brother (because he was little and cute), would reach up to the elaborate brass candelabra and light a candle. White or purple, depending on the week we were asked to participate.

Advent, they say, is a time of preparation.
The only preparation I took part in during this season was making sure my lipstick matched my tight red sweater.

As the trees loose their leaves and the sun peaks later and sets earlier, they serve as vivid symbols of what happened with Israel before Christ was born.
Quite literally, there was famine and war, due to the lack of a king.
Life was sparse
and dark
and lifeless.
There was a yearning for more.
Much more.

In my soul,
and maybe yours,
there is also famine and war.
It is colder.
Much more stark than other times in my life.

And so I find great hope in the promise of this advent season.
Maybe hope like Israel found when they heard that after hundreds (400, I think) of years of leaderless war, that a the promised king might finally be arriving.

It is a time in my life . . . as it was for Israel . . . that is filled with anticipation
and perhaps a little fear.

What if the king is not coming?
And if he does,
what if he can't help us?

In the end, we find out that it is a bastard baby child that is the promised king.
Not quite what they were hoping for.
And then, later he rides into town on an ass . . . just like the ones he was born amongst . . .
instead of the white horse that a king would ride . . .
and then to top it all off, he gets killed.
Well, not just killed.
The death that is saved for the most vile of criminals.
Kind of sounds like a trifecta of disappointment and even more despair.
Turns out, it actually is not.
This God of ours has a wild imagination and He gets his work done in the most interesting of ways.
After all, He IS the Creator . . . an artist . . .
and us creative types tend to be a little reckless and unconventional in getting to our intended destination.

But we are not there yet.
Let's not skip ahead.

Right now, we are in a season of promise.
We don't know what is to come . . .
But we hope.
We anticipate.

Things are darker . . . quite literally, as our sun comes for such short visits these days . . .
and for some of us, things are darker inside.

And as we are surrounded by stark darkness, we hear a quiet promise . . .

Things are about to change.
A Savior is coming.
THE Savior is coming.

Here was stand, surrounded by darkness . . .
Yet, we can, should we choose,

anticipate . . .
wait for . . .
watch for . . .

a bright, abundant source of light and life.

Today, should you choose, think about a way you might choose to participate . . .
to daily hope and watch . . .
during this time of waiting.
This time of watching.
Should you need ideas, let me know.
I have a few.

For me . . .

I have a few books stashed here and there.

And I am going to go find a few Paperwhite bulbs today to plant . . .
in rocks . . .
to remind me that life can come even in the most desolate of environments.
And I am going to watch those ugly bulbs everyday . . .
and see what they might do.
I am going to plant them in a glass container so I can watch their roots begin to grow.
that they will in fact . . .
come to life.
No, they . . .
we . . .
ARE alive here and now . . .
we just don't appear that way.
We just don't feel that way.
Instead, we hope they (and we)
will bloom.

I also have the desire to put a big old piece of butcher paper up on a closet door for doodling and writing words and verses that stand out during this season of anticipation.
Have not passed that one by Herbie yet . . .
we'll see how he feels about having a collage on the front closet door!

And, finally, I am going to try . . .
to write in this blog daily throughout Advent.
About what I see as I wait.

How do you think you might posture yourself during this time of waiting for the Christ child?

It might be easy.
Your life might be dark and dizzy and volatile.
So, the promise of a peacemaking king might make perfect sense to you.

But maybe you are enjoying life.
Maybe things are easy and breezy.
How nice for you!
And if they are, what might you do to listen to that voice deep inside,
quiet as it may be right now,
that says,
"I need a Savior"?

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