Advent. Learning how to look ahead.

(This is the first in a series of posts from a message delivered November 27, 2016. The texts were Isaiah 2:1-5, Romans 13: 11-14, and Matthew 23: 37-44.)

Trail signsThis summer, Karl Meltzer traveled on the Appalachian Trail. It runs 2190 miles from Maine to Georgia. It runs about the same distance as a line from LA to Washington DC.  And Karl ran, too. He covered about 50 miles a day. He traveled the trail in 45 days and 22 hours, beating the previous record by 10 hours. On the last day, September 17-18, he covered 83 miles. Because, he said, when you only have 30 miles left, why sleep?

This is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is the month before Christmas, a season when we learn how to look ahead. Which sound funny, because we are all experts on looking ahead.

Sometimes we look with worry. Sometimes we look with anticipation and hope. Sometimes we look and we want to drown it out.

Recently, I talked with a young man looking ahead to surgery with anxiousness, because you have to let go of your control for surgery.

Recently, I talked with a wife looking ahead to her husband’s death, knowing it was coming soon, knowing that there wasn’t anything more that could be done.

So I understand that looking ahead is often scary.

But Isaiah and Jesus and Paul and Karl Meltzer all show that the way we experience life depends on what we see when we are looking ahead. And what we think we are looking toward. And Advent, by talking about Christ’s first coming and then his coming again, teaches us that there is a bigger story happening than the one we think we are stuck in.

In the next couple days, we’ll talk about three lessons from these texts for the first week of Advent: Wake up, keep watch, and live well.


For details from Karl Metzler, listen to the Runner’s World podcast.

For an ebook Advent reader, Anticipation: An Advent Reader.

And starting on December 1, we’re going back to Saint John of the Mall.