Thursday, December 11, 2014

Toward the Glory

 Advent is a troubling season for the contemporary church that places great value on being attractive to the secular culture around it.  Often the "appeal factor" becomes more important than theological and liturgical integrity.  Advent calls the church to themes of preparation instead of themes of celebration, but as December arrives, the culture starts demanding the celebration begin.  There can be no waiting, no anticipation for a culture worshipping the gods of instant gratification.

The early days of Advent cause us to reflect on the larger plan of God.  Certainly, we are slowly and steadily being moved toward the Christ-event at Bethlehem, but at a pace that enables us to see that the plan of God is not in response to what is trending, but to what is eternal.  Advent is experienced as a traveler on a journey from the utter darkness of barren countryside toward a distant unseen city.  The night is first experienced as black darkness, then as a faint light on the distant horizon, and finally the light far away becomes a light that is both approaching and suddenly all around.  In darkness we travel toward the glory of what is eternal.  Not now, but soon.  Not here, but coming.

In the early days of Advent when ancient prophets stride the stage of the Biblical story, it seems that Advent is just about the past.  Yet, it is also about what is ahead.  Behind are the prophets who spoke God's Word about what and Who was to come and ahead are shepherds, Mary and Joseph, a new born baby on a bed of straw in Bethlehem, and glory!  Toward that glory about to be revealed we now begin to move on this Advent journey.  

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