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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Come Soon

On the second Sunday of Advent, these readings prepare my heart for gathered worship this morning, and help me to enter the season more attentively:

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Advent is a time of waiting.

Our whole life, however, is Advent--that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: "On earth peace to those on whom God's favor rests."

Learn to wait, because he has promised to come. "I stand at the door..." We however call to him: "Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!"
From Henri Nouwen:
"A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him . . ." (Isa.11:1-2).

These words from last night's liturgy have stayed with me during the day. Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.

I find this a hopeful message. Somehow, I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving power; but over and over again I am reminded that spectacles, power plays, and big events are the ways of the world. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind to the "shoot that shall sprout from the stump."

When I have no eyes for the small signs of God's presence - the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends - I will always remain tempted to despair.

The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown young man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hidden in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices.
1John 4:15-16
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
As I have often taught to students, God not only loves us... He IS love. He is the source, definition, and embodiment of love. All love comes from him. To know him is to be changed.

I wait patiently, Lord Jesus, yet I yearn so deeply for you to come. During this Advent season, the beginning of our new year, I want to "rely on the love God has for us" and nothing else. I will seek to live life to the fullest every day, not because I think I somehow deserve it, but because I want to be a good steward of the life you have given to me. Thank you for your manna, Lord. You are endlessly generous and good. You are love.

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