My Advent

Everybody tells me that I am supposed to get excited for Christmas.

And really, there are so many possible entry points.   I could be all consumeristic and get excited about the sales.  I could take the nostalgic route and listen to the songs.  There is a brotherhood of rather dramatic folks who bond over cynicism around the holiday.  There are stories about the manger, connections to unwed mothers.   Apparently I could get upset about some sort-of war on Christmas, or I could join the larger group of people getting upset about the fact that people are claiming that their is a war on Christmas.  I could take the theological route, or the charitable one…

And none of it is speaking to me, this year.  I am not even passionate about being grinchy this year.   Charlie Brown’s wailings about the real meaning of Christmas…  These are no more interesting to me, right now, than a man-child-elf guy running around with a bag of spaghetti.

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I was pondering, and reading, and looking, though, and then I began to think about some things that I already new:

Once, the world had been silent for centuries.

There were these people who felt like they had been chosen by God.  They told these stories, where he entered into their lives.   They practiced these traditions.  They did the things that they had been told to do.

They were conquered and beaten, occupied.  The collection of holy stories that they revered must have begun to seem stale.  Generation followed generation into the grave.

The promises of deliverance must have seemed so hollow.

Then he came and turned everything upside down, entering the world in this new way that changed everything.

It is not this story, by itself, that speaks to me, this year.  It has before.  Maybe it does for you.  If so?  That’s great.

So often when I think about the ancient Isrealites, I realize that their story is my story.  This is no exception.

There are ways that I feel like my world has been silent for centuries.

Though I have felt chosen by God, sometimes it feels like all I have is these stories.  I feel myself growing more distant from God’s entrance into my life.  I feel myself growing more desperate for him to come into my world in some new way.

And so this is where Advent is for me, now.  This hope that God that invades the places we think he has forgotten about.  This knowledge that he comes in these new, backwards ways that cause us to completely see him anew.

I know that there is this hope that Jesus will re-enter the cosmic world outside of us; I know that people link his truimphant return to his initial entry into the world.

But right now?  Right now, the thing I feel ready for is this quiet entry into my own inner world.  That is where advent is for me, this year.

What about you?

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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