Tag Archives: advent

Looking forward to Advent

I’ve had mixed feelings about Advent and Christmas for years. Everyone’s happy and I get more melancholy. There are expectations of great love and great presents and great programs, and I feel inadequate.

But several years ago, I began to understand that spending time in preparation can help us handle seasons of expectation with wisdom and grace. A little more anyway.

Several years ago, I wrote an Advent reader.  It looked at the mixture of fear and hope and anticipation in the lives of people as Jesus first appeared.

As I started thinking about Advent this year, about a season of preparation for Christmas, I wanted to write something new. Writing is how I think. And in the reflection, I started to think about food.

That’s obvious, right?

bonnie doon.We talk about eating too much during the holidays. In fact, I’ve spent much of the year dealing with what happened last year.

And food can be a scary thing. I have several friends sorting through food allergies right now, deciding what can help them and what can hurt them.

But I realized that food, or better, meals, is a powerful way to reflect on anticipation and preparation. Having food, not having food, having meals, having community – all of these are deep in our hearts. And there are food images, meal images, all through the Bible. From good and bad food choices in the Garden, to feasts in front of enemies in Psalm 23 to vegetarian choices in Daniel to a wedding feast at the end of time.

Starting November 30, at 300 we’re going to celebrate Advent by looking at the stories of meals around Jesus.

I’d love to have you start thinking now, to anticipate our conversation about anticipation. So answer this question if you would: What’s the best meal you ever had?

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I’m suggesting a helping project around Advent as well: Advent Diapers.

Advent 24: Unexpecting

For the past month, throughout advent, we’ve been looking at the people who were expecting Jesus. In the town of Nain there was a person who wasn’t expecting him at all.  But her lack of expectation didn’t stop Jesus from helping.

Jesus and his disciples and a crowd were walking toward town. A funeral procession was coming out of town at the same time. The body of a boy was being carried out, the only son of a widow.

This woman was doubly bereaved. All support was gone. She was going to be at the mercy of others. But at that moment, Jesus showed up.

His heart went out to her.

The boy was given life back, the woman was given hope. And Jesus showed unexpected, unrequested, unbelievable grace.

But then again, that’s what grace is about.

(From Luke 7:11-17)

Advent 23: Hungry and rich

Levi had a pretty good job, at least financially. He collected taxes.

When you have the Roman army backing you up, you can make a comfortable living collecting taxes. You don’t have many friends, other than tax collectors and other people who have money but are socially unacceptable. But there is, I’m guessing, a sense of community among the outcasts.

One day Levi is sitting at his desk and Jesus walks by and says, “follow me.” An odd statement this is. It’s clear enough, this two word invitation, but out of the blue, it doesn’t seem to fit.

Except to Levi.

He gets up and follows Jesus. And then he throws a party. It may have been a going out of business party. It may have been a “here’s the man who gave me meaning” party. It may have been one of Levi’s great parties.

Whatever the theme, the honored guest was Jesus, and lots of people came. The outcasts sat inside. The religious leaders stood outside, scolding. But Jesus wasn’t at all confused about where he wanted to be. For him, sitting with people who were rich financially and hungry for meaning was exactly where he wanted to be.

It was far more fun than standing with people who were already so stuffed with meaning that they couldn’t hear the voice that counted.

(From Luke 5:27-39)

Advent 22: Friends

“What do we do? How can we help?”

When we have friends who are in the middle of pain and suffering, when we have friends who have no way to get to Jesus for healing because of the crowds, what do we do? I mean, we can’t heal anyone ourselves. We can’t take away the pain and the doubt and the uncertainty and the paralysis.

The man on the mat couldn’t move either. Even if he wanted to get to Jesus, he couldn’t. He couldn’t move on his own, and the room where Jesus was teaching was full of people, including the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. In other words, the people who desperately needed healing were being kept away by the inertia of the people who were trying to find out whether Jesus was being accurate.

Finally, the friends of the man ripped up the roof and lowered him through the hole.

When you really want to get your friends to see Jesus, to be right in front of him, nothing material matters.

And He knows. And cares. And sees the faith of friends.

(From Luke 5:17-26)

Advent 21: Beggars

We look down on beggars. We figure that they are people who couldn’t get control of themselves, who couldn’t find socially acceptable ways to live. We ignore them if we can. We turn our eyes away. We drop a quarter in the bucket at Christmas, hoping that the beggar with the bell will stop ringing in our hearts.

The beggar in the middle of Luke 5, however, wasn’t an ordinary beggar. He had leprosy. He was shut off from normal human contact. He had to tell people to stay away. He had lost relationship, was losing his body, and was on his way to losing his life.

When this man was begging, he wasn’t asking for a few coins to get a beer, he was asking for his life. Literally. He had no hope for ever being without disease again. And so he was begging for Jesus to heal him.

And his begging wasn’t linked to Jesus’ capacity to heal him. “If you are willing,” he said, “you can make me clean.” He knew Jesus could. He asked if Jesus would.

i want that to be true of me. I want to trust his capacity, even while uncertain of his willingness. Especially when his will and my desire differ.

The healing I really want? A healing of desire. Since that’s what often is most diseased.

(From Luke 5:12-15)