November 29, 2009

advent: first sunday reflection


As a way of reflecting on a passage, I often re-write it in my own terms and then ask myself some questions in order to see how it connects to my own life and community. As today is the first Sunday in Advent, I decided to type it out to share with the Hawthorn House folks tonight???with some additional thoughts. Here it is for you as well. Please share your thoughts.

Anticipating the arrival of the (un)King - Introduction
For Christians, the Christmas season is meant to be more than the consumer frenzy it is for most in Western culture. In fact, traditionally the season leading up to Christmas is called ???Advent??? which means to wait or anticipate. And what do Christians wait for? The arrival of our (un)King, Jesus Christ. The four weeks of Advent are about preparation. While waiting for our (un)King, we consider what it means to follow such a leader, to allow our lives to be directed by such a God.

Why do I call Jesus the (un)King? Because in all but title, he is unlike any human king. As you read the story of his arrival in the Gospels, you will find a very unkingly story; his first cradle a feeding trough, poor farm hands to announce his arrival and so on. As you read the Scripture passages over the next few weeks, I challenge you to reflect on what it means to follow this (un)King and in what ways that might transform you life during Advent in preparation for the coming year.

A Note
For some, the idea of Jesus as God feels like a stretch. People have often debated whether Jesus intended to say this???or if he even did. I???d ask you to set this worry aside. One thing that is clear in the Gospels is that Jesus said, ???Follow me.??? And he was called ???Lord,??? a name reserved for Caesar (or the king). Can you follow the way of Jesus? Can you consider him your leader? If you can, do that and let the rest take care of itself.

First Sunday of Advent ??? Luke 21:25-36
Jesus said:

???When you see great changes in the sky and land,
When governments grow anxious over these changes
When the people make shocking claims of what is to come
When the leaders of nations seem to lose their influence
Then know that a great Liberator, of both the people and and of God, is coming
And when this happens stand up and raise your heads
Your day is coming too

Just as when the leaves of trees turn color at the change of seasons, take these signs as a changing of seasons as well. Know that the dreams of God are coming near you; are closer to becoming reality. Your generation will take part in this dream-come-true.

So don???t get bogged down in the worries of life and don???t drown your worries with excess of any kind. Stay alert and ready to participate in the new way coming. Pray for strength to resist the challenges and capacity to stand with the coming Liberator.???

For Reflection
The passage of Luke is my own ???remix.??? I encourage you to read it in your Bible and consider putting it in your own terms as well. Don't worry about getting it right. Just write it how you would say it if explaining it to someone who had never read/heard it before. Feel free to read the passages before and after this one to help make sense of it.

When I read this passage, I feel I can relate???climate change, a shift in global power (from the west to the east)???it???s all right there. Sometimes these things can seem quite dismal. But I also see signs of hope; people around the globe doing wonderful things that imagine a different kind of world.?? Do you feel you can relate to the ???time??? Jesus is talking about in these ways?

I love doing things with tangible results. But I'm realizing if I don't do the work of preparing myself, I don't often get the results I want. If I'm not physically fit, I can't reach the goals I desire. If I'm not emotionally and spiritually centered, I'll burn out early during the hard work of activism or mission. If you choose to follow the (un)King, what do you need to do to prepare yourself?

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