December 12, 2011

Waiting for the (un)King: Advent Week Three

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NOTE: Sorry for being 24 hours late this week. Yesterday was... full.

Like most of the passages read during Advent, there is something about them that says, "Something good is coming!" Indeed, that is certainly the case. But He who is to come, comes in the most unexpected of ways. And He comes with expectations upon us that often are unexpected as well.

One of the readings this week is from Psalm 126. It cries out for restoration. Restoration of what, though? The psalm longs for the restoration of fortunes. Uh oh. Is this some kind of "health and wealth gospel" nonsense? Are the people of Israel, in this prayer, asking God to secure a certain lifestyle for themselves?

I don't think so.

In verses five and six it reads, "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them." This psalm is prayed by a people longing for basic sustenance. They walk with seeds out to the fields prepared for famine. But they long to feed their people.

This isn't an individual thing. This is a communal thing. Those who prayer this long for the sustenance of their people, not just themselves. But while the need is for the whole, it is neither the whole nor the individual that provides what it is needed. This prayer (for that is what this psalm is) is prayed next to the reading of Isaiah 64 in which God brings justice to the weak and broken. (Jesus would later read this same passage from Isaiah in a synagogue to commence his ministry.)

The people of God, here, realize that they cannot bring the restoration needed on their own. Only God can. Certainly, they are to participate in his justice, his mercy, his restoration. But they know that it cannot be done without God.

Thus, in the end, Advent is about a kind of waiting that is reflected in how we live. We Christians do not seek our own benefit, we consider--and prayer for--the whole. And this is reflected in how we live. Our fortune are not for the benefit of one but for the sustenance of the whole. In so doing, we reflect our hope. A hope in a Savior that will restore all things and not just the little we can do in our life time.

So, this Advent may your waiting be reflected in your living... in your lifestyle.

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