Lighting the way to an unfamiliar peaceBottom Highlights, Online Only, Where's the Faith? Thursday, December 15th, 2016
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
In the Christian tradition, we are in the Season of Advent which is part of the church calendar called the Liturgical Calendar. And in the Liturgical calendar the church New Year starts off with Advent, the preparation and anticipation of the birth of Christ. So, in that light, let me be the first to wish you a Happy New Year!
Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas; each one given a name the Sunday of Peace, Hope, Joy and Love. Advent is a season where the past and the future collide in the present; it’s a time of already here (as in Christ did come and is here) and not yet (Christ will come again).
Our theme for Advent this year is “Lighting the Way!” In this rapidly changing world, filled with so much uncertainty along our journey, we are living in a time that where we are going is not entirely clear.
Our theme of lighting the way will focus on how, though we have the promises of God, it is still not entirely clear how those promises will come to be; that God is guiding us somewhere we have never been before (I think the buzz word is “unprecedented territory!”), that even though we may not know clearly where that is, we just need enough light and faith to move just a little farther down the path.
And the Good News is that along our Advent journey into the unmapped future, we have faith in God for Lighting the way. Lighting the way to unfamiliar peace, unclear hope, unrevealed joy, unknown love that leads us to the unexpected Christ.
The lesson from Matthew 24 is a big one; keep awake, for we don’t know what day the Lord is coming. Be ready, for the coming will be at an unexpected hour. Be prepared.
So, why this scripture on the first Sunday of the New Year, the first Sunday of Advent? Let’s look a little bit closer; Matthew is saying here, you never know. You just never know.
Noah’s crowd never knew about the flood until it happened and we never know about God flooding our lives until we are swept away into God’s love, into the arms of a loving embrace.
Then Matthew goes on talking about two in the field, one taken and one left; two grinding grain, one taken and one left. Taken where? Left where?
I don’t want to get into eschatology; there are so many different beliefs and interpretations about the end times and the fulfillment of prophecy.
Maybe we can think about it this way: Taken into the comfort of a living, loving, responsive relationship with God; and left with the relationship still intact; because what can separate us from the love of God? Nothing!
So Matthew says “be ready” so that whenever God comes, you are ready. So, what does it mean to be ready? I like what Jane Wolfe says about this, “Being prepared … means being open for the experience of God.” I love that! Being ready for the experience of God to come into your life.
It means keeping a few cracks in our defensive armor that we all wear just to survive in this world, so that God can sneak in and touch us. They don’t have to be big cracks, just little cracks where God can come in. Little places that nobody knows about but you and God.
It’s not about standing on the street corner and saying your prayers out loud to draw attention to yourself as Jesus talked about when he was describing the Pharisees. It’s about living an authentic life, having a daily discipline of some sort of spiritual practice or habit. Reading a devotional, giving prayers of thanks, meditation, worship and being engaged in a faith community; making a difference in the world through your spiritual vitality, intellectual integrity, justice and ecology. Whatever it is be authentic. Be yourself. Your relationship with God is intimate and very personal. There is no one right way to do it. There are many ways. That’s why we say over and over again around here, “Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, come just as you are believing as you do.”
So Matthew is saying here, be prepared to let God in. Don’t try to cover up and plaster the little cracks where you may feel defenseless; let God see those areas where you’re afraid, and vulnerable. Let God give you peace and strength and hope and joy.
Leave the little cracks and allow God in so that you can stop being afraid. Let God love you. You don’t have to love God back at first; just get loved on and receive healing in your heart and for whatever it is you’re going through.
Some of you might say, “I haven’t let God in for so long, I wouldn’t know what to do.” It might be overwhelming, but God isn’t going to overwhelm you in a negative way, God will meet you where you are even if it feels like baby steps. Think of it like feeding a baby sparrow, if an eyedropper is all you can take at first, that’s all you’ll get. But it will grow from there so be prepared!
Let God see the cracks. Allow God’s love in.
In this Season of Advent there is peace! Let the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.
As we celebrate the Advent of the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us there is peace! Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
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