November 27, 2011

Waiting for the (un)King: Advent Week One

Warhol was right. There is something about the celebration of Advent that makes Christmas.. more exciting! The acknowledgement of this season in our home has made Christmas more special and certainly more centered on Jesus.
Otherwise, in this season many of us simply fall into the fray of the rabid consumerism.
As usual, I'm going to post a few of my reflections each week during Advent this year. It is one of my favorite times of year. As I have before, I use the term "(un)King." Two years ago, I wrote this about the term:
"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. "
Isaiah 64:1-9 is one of today's lectionary readings. It speaks of God's silence and the impatience of God's people for him to show up. It seems a short attention span and a lack of patience is more timeless than we might think. But the Isaiah passage, along with the remainder of today's readings, say something about the kind of King we await as Advent begins today. He is a God capable of the incredible but who loves to work in the quiet, in the shadows and in the mundane.The incredible and sensational is certainly what we would desire, as the writer of this passage does, "Oh, that you would rip open the heavens and descend, make the mountains shudder at your presence." Yet it seems that God chooses not go about his redeeming work in the world in such a way most of the time. Why would the maker of the universe work in such humble tones? Because that is where most of us hide. It's where we hide our brokenness, our woundedness, our inability to make the world what we wish it to be. Isaiah writes, "We're all sin-infected, sin-contaminated. Our best efforts are grease-stained rags." Still, it is us he chooses to work with.
In the Isaiah passage, it says, "You meet those who happily do what is right, who keep a good memory of the way you work." As we enter into the Advent season, remember the Story of redemption, of restoration. Let this story drive us to the quiet places and shadows of our own hearts and in the world around us. May we wait there faithfully. God will meet us there. Maybe not in the ways we expect. He has an affection for the humble and broken, for barns, feeding troughs and day laborers. But he does arrive. And the good news is that his arrival is not based on our patience. The happiness of she who Isaiah writes about in the quote above does not find joy in the fact that she does what is good and remembers well but in the confidence that God will arrive no matter what. That, in and of itself, is good news indeed.