The Hope of Advent – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Advent Week Four and Christmas!

Good morning sweet friends.

We finally made it. We finished up a long list of projects, we took down the Christmas tree and packed away all the Christmas boxes – all while packing bags and clearing off desks in preparation for a trip north.

The hope and anticipation of being with family and friends was the quiet element that kept us going in recent weeks – working toward seeing our older boys, having the fam back together, enjoying the sights and sounds and smells and tastes and touches of this season.

Taking a physical journey always reminds me of the true journey. We are all headed home, we are on the trail of a world beyond this one. Advent sets the Christian year in motion with that hum and sweet aroma – it reminds us constantly of that which is deeper and higher and wider. It calls us to truly prepare – to set our homes in order and pour out our gifts for the common good. And what fuels the fire? Hope. Rugged hope. A long obedience in the same direction. Faith. Persistence. Grit.

Let’s be the ones who live in that Light.

I will be back mid January with a new series – keeping you all in my prayers and thoughts as we enjoy these weeks.

The Preparation of Advent – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Advent Week Three

Good morning.

As Advent is humming along and a sweet aroma is filling the air, don’t miss the urgency as well – don’t miss the riptide just below the surface – for there isn’t one Advent, there are two – and the second will be compelling – no one will miss it.

I had the rare privilege of entering a little classroom last week and spending time with seven young men who are in the midst of a “gap year” program. We spent three mornings together in the Scriptures and in the themes and big ideas of Casa Viva. I absolutely loved it – it stretched way back to classrooms of long ago and stirred something within me.

All that to say, we spent time in Matthew 25 – as you know, the Parable of the Talents is a text that has woven itself in and around my life and work for quite some time now. I was reminded again that we simply do not want to be found with nothing more than a hole in the ground and buried gifts. What you are holding in your hands is meant to be used, to be poured out, to be given away again and again and again – live the Kingdom, don’t hold back.

Through a different avenue came this text – Matthew 10 verse 34 – “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” This is urgency and clarity bundled together – this is the sweet babe in the manger dividing families and “cozy domestic arrangements” as Peterson says in the Message.

And then the story in Luke 12 – When the Master Shows Up – verses 15 to 48 – “Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch! He’ll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them. It doesn’t matter what time of the night he arrives; they are awake – and so blessed!”

And then finally from our Advent devotions in the evening – an essay by J.B. Phillips – “The Dangers of Advent”.

As a translator of the New Testament I find in it no support whatever for the belief that one day all evil will be eradicated from the earth, all problems solved, and health and wealth be every man’s portion! Even among some Christians such a belief is quite commonly held, so that the “second advent” of Christ is no more and no less than the infinite number of “comings” of Christ into men’s minds. Of course, no one would deny that there are millions of such “comings” every year – but that is not what the Christian Church believes by the second advent of Christ; and it is most emphatically not what any writer of the New Testament ever meant in foretelling his second coming.

The New Testament is indeed a book full of hope, but we may search it in vain for any vague humanist optimism. The second coming of Christ, the second irruption of eternity into time, will be immediate, violent and conclusive. The human experiment is to end, illusion will give way to reality, the temporary will disappear before the permanent, and the king will be seen for who he is. The thief in the night, the lightning flash, the sound of the last trumpet, the voice of God’s archangel – these may all be picture-language, but they are pictures of something sudden, catastrophic, and decisive. By no stretch of the imagination do they describe a gradual process.

Ahem.

Listen for the hum, pay attention to the aroma – and get your “house” in order – keep the lights on, be ready – no one will miss it the second time.

Praying for each of you in this Advent season – keep me posted on your plans and send me photos for my office bulletin board!

con amor…..

The Aroma of Advent – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Advent Week Two

Good morning friends! I’m up very early today enjoying my Christmas lights and the scents of our tree and the burning candle at my table. May this season be filled with all five senses – sight and sound and touch and taste and smell.

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.

This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No – but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say from God and say it as honestly as we can. 2 Corinthians 2, The Message

As I’ve been reflecting through the Advent season this year, I’ve been reminded again and again how “off the grid” it truly was. God among us – slipping into a stable – arriving as a newborn. Everything about it was filled with surprise and intrigue, the majority of the population missed it completely. No fanfare. More questions than answers. Yet an aroma was released and we carry it with us still – it wafts and lingers in the air – it is elusive and powerful.

Mary watched and pondered as shepherds came telling her stories, and then on the 8th day, she brought him to the temple – the aroma filled the air and Simeon stepped forth. Long were the years that Simeon waited to smell this child, and when he did, he knew. The Holy Spirit nudged his spirit and he knew deep down that he was holding the Christ Child.

If you do nothing else this week, stop and ponder the years that Simeon waited – the moment when he held this babe in his arms and lifted him to the heavens – blessing God and this family.

Listen for the hum of Advent, pay attention to the aroma of Advent – for that is what Paul challenges us to be in his letters to the Corinthians. Recognize that regardless of what you do or say, when you enter a room, you bring the aroma of Christ – people smell God on you and for the lost it brings such comfort. Yes, it is true, for lovers of the darkness, you are the stench of death – but for so so many lost and wandering people, you are life – you bring the fragrance of what their hearts are aching to know and believe.

Bless people this season – stop and listen – give gentle words to the aroma – ask generous questions – be patient and kind.

Be the Kingdom.

The Hum of Advent – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Advent Week One

My hope and prayer for you is that you will seek the quiet of this season, that you will find a place or practice or both, and that you will attend to “what is being born in you” during this incredibly significant time in the life of the Church.

As I’ve been thinking upon Advent and the start of the Christian year, as our “big year” rounds the corner into the last weeks, and as I anticipate the time when our family of five is gathered together again for a season of days…..all of this has created a quiet hum in my heart.

It’s the same hum I felt when we entered the ancient grove of redwoods during our anniversary trip. We were so small and those spires were so tall and majestic, there was a sacred hush as we walked along the forest floor – everywhere ancient life, such deep knowing, so many years – the hum of Advent.

It’s that moment when you enter the butterfly garden and work your way to the cocoons – completely still, yet not – nothing happening and everything happening at exactly the same time. Life quivering, waiting to burst forth – this is the hum of Advent.

It’s why I love greenhouses and what they represent – little seeds in rich humus, buried deep in the darkness, waiting to be born.

It’s why I love the smell of yeast, why I enjoy pounding and kneading away at the dough. I set it to rise in a warm place, and trust the leaven will do its work. When I return, the flour will have found new life, bursting the bowl and ready for the oven and those that love warm bread.

The world was going about its business, travelers were partaking in a census, families were gathering in villages…..but someone was about to be born….God was about to come on the scene as one of us…..nothing would ever be the same. This is the hum of Advent – that quiet darkness, the slow journey on a donkey, the moments when the world hovers in darkness – the seed, the yeast, the cocoon.

Advent is small and quiet, it is intimate and personal. It is the coming of the Christ Child – remembering the first time and hoping for the second and last.

My prayer is that you settle into the season, look and listen for the hum. Create a little space with a candle or two, add some greenery – a jar of seeds or yeast and commit to quiet for some part of each day. Or adopt a new practice for these weeks – take a walk each day and pray for your neighbors, set to work baking and cooking and then give it all away and let no one know it was you, find one person that you see almost every day, and commit to calling forth their story – blessing them in this season.

So grateful for you all.

Be the Kingdom this week.

con amor…..