Once again, there are already Christmas decorations up in the stores (I even spotted them before Halloween this year). I have to be honest and admit that I do have a helping of Grinch in me, because I want so badly to hold onto the practice of Advent, to say “Not yet!”
I know we celebrate the good news of Jesus’ coming, but I love the sober stillness of Advent that makes space for those who bear the honesty that the sweet carols on the radio and the bright tree doesn’t mean everything is ok. I even remember last year at this time feeling a little grumpy and I may have possibly responded to a well-meaning but far too early “Merry Christmas,” with a just as joyous “Happy Advent!” Which, I think, just left the people around me confused, and I realized is my own sin in needing to respond differently.
Now don’t get me wrong, I actually love Christmas. Once we get there, on Christmas Eve, my heart always cracks open by the time the pew candles are lit. I’m excited to celebrate it here at Zion. But I’m going to invite you first into the practice of Advent. I was inspired by another pastor with this specific practice and I am now inviting you into this practice as well (in other words, I don’t deserve all the credit for this).
I’m going to start on the first Sunday of Advent, December 1, looking for one glimpse of good news, of the coming of God’s kingdom, every day, and posting on social media about it. I invite you to join me (I’ll use the hashtags #Adventsigns #ZionBuffalo). This year we actually get a full season of Advent, including all four Sundays of Advent, but it isn’t a long season so don’t miss soaking in this beautiful season of stillness and waiting – a season that says with our souls, “Already – but not yet!”
We have many ways to see the #Adventsigns around our community. I think one exciting way is the work of the Buffalo Food Shelf wgucg will distribute Christmas Dinner baskets on December 12. At this event families will receive a basket of food items to make a great Christmas dinner, and all the kids who come will get a chance to meet Santa (and maybe even receive an early Christmas gift). I am excited for this event. I think it may look like the kingdom. Even still, this event is another glimpse, a witness to the way we live – already, but not yet.
As Christians we know that in Christ it has all been accomplished, that God has reconciled the world – and yet, the kingdom has not yet come into its fullness. There are still hungry, lonely, and forgotten folks who will need this meal. There are empty seats around our tables from people we miss, and ways in which our own lives and certainly our world is not yet as we hope it will be. This is true in a very deep level in our own lives, and some of my prayers for you. For some, this in-between time we live in is not easy, and I think it’s good to be honest about this. Jesus doesn’t just magically make everything better – but in faith we keep hearing God’s promises that all will be well. If you turn on the news, your tv, radio, phone – you hear about fear, destruction, horrible hurts people cause each other, and natural disasters. How are we to explain these to our kids or reconcile them to ourselves? To me, being a Christian means we can be honest about these things – that together we deeply explore this mystery of the already and not yet. In scripture we have witness to both, as we hear in these gospel readings each week.
Both/And. Already, but not yet! May God bless you with a full heart in this Advent season, longing to see the glimpses of the kingdom and peace as we live in this in-between time.from an article written by fellow pastor, Brett Davis. This article is in my files but I am not sure where it was originally published.