A Stark Juxtaposition: Advent Reflection #2

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Watching our continued political unraveling got me thinking today about how peculiar a claim Advent makes, something that is especially contrasted by our current national mood of waiting.  Presently, the news headlines are filled with the pomp and circumstance of our President Elect’s Survivor-esque selection of future cabinet members for the future administration.  There are closed door meetings in expensive steakhouses, press conferences and flashing lights, private penthouse interviews, and everyone looks so fancy.  Our nation is in a state of expectation, waiting, and longing.

For some of us the waiting is exciting and positive.  For others it’s downright nerve wracking. Who’s going to be picked next?  What will the new Presidency actually look like?

And so we wait.  We wait for the most rich and powerful people in the world to make their selections from their lofty towers and mansions.  The attention of the entire globe is directed at these new leaders and each of their decisions.  Our waiting is noisy, obsessed with power, and addicted to breaking news and constant activity.

What a juxtaposition all of this drama is from Advent and the posture in which this season invites us to wait, long, and expect!

The central character in the Advent story was born in a no-named village to nervous and displaced parents, not in a hotel penthouse, but amidst dirt, manure, and the cold night air.

There were no mobs of journalists waiting endlessly outside for a press statement.

There were no flashing golden lights on the sides of the buildings bearing our new leaders namesake.

There were no private jets branded by the king.

And certainly no one looked fancy.

It should follow then, that our waiting and expecting in Advent should look very different from our waiting and expecting of a new President.

Instead of noisy waiting,
We should pursue silence.

Instead of our longing to see the ways power is used in new hands,
We should long for simplicity, humility, and the law of love.

Instead of our obsessive longing for the latest headlines and tweets,
We should yearn for slow, authentic human relationship.

And instead of thinking true power looks like the rich, powerful, and fancy,
We should seek the God who came to us vulnerable and amidst the mess.

Advent invites us to long for a different kind of power, and wait in a different kind of way.

The claim of Advent and Christmas is that God entered into our collective story in the most counter-intuitive way, and if we slow ourselves down during this season, we might catch a glimpse of that real power, glory, and love.

What kind of power do you long to see in our world?
What kind of savior are you waiting for?

“6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.

Isaiah 9:6-7

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