Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Anticipation during Advent

I'm very grateful for my heritage. I grew up going to a church of Christ, but it was not your typical run-of-the-mill church of Christ. We did some things differently, but at the time I wasn't exposed to the difference. One of the practices we did was recognize the Christian calendar, especially Advent. When I was growing up, I really didn't understand why we lit a purple candle every Sunday (4 Sundays) before Christmas. I think I even lit a few back in the day. My excitement wouldn't come with expecting Christ, but with expecting Santa to be here soon. The climatic ending to this was a candle-lit Christmas Eve service. When I moved up to Tennessee, I found out that this was very very rare if not non-existent in the churches of Christ. Why? I pondered and asked myself, "Was my church wrong? Did we do something that wasn't appropriate or scriptural?" Since working at a Methodist publishing house, I have finally understood the emphasis of Advent in the life of the church: anticipating Jesus entering into history, just as the Jews eagerly awaited their Messiah, as well as anticipating the second coming, the return of Christ as King of the Kingdom.

My convictions have led me to live this holiday season in light of this anticipation. I try to image the Jewish nation being hopeful, yet skeptical of the coming Christ. They had heard about the coming of Jesus through poets and prophets, but after several hundred of years he still hadn't come. Sometimes I feel that way about Jesus coming back. I don't understand the apocalypse or the final judgment or eschatology. Will it be like the picture painted in the Left Behind series? I don't know, I don't think so, but I have no idea. Yet, I anticipate the ending of time. Not in a manner that awaits passively in my living room, but in a manner that trys to live out the new social order Jesus installed in society. A manner that is inclusive, loving and merciful and just.

Because Advent has been on my mind lately and the idea of anticipation lingering near, I had a wonderful experience last night. Jennifer and I went to Nashville to celebrate one of my former roommates 27th birthday. We were accompanied by our good friends Dean, Robert and Emily. Dean was supposed to be escorting his lovely financee Amanda, but she needed some down time to herself. They are getting married this Friday. Rob and Emily have been married for almost 5 months now. We met Thomas, his girlfriend Jessica (of 9 months) and his sister Nikki there at Ken's Japanese Restaurant. Later we were joined by Catherine and Thomas (dating couple) and Daniel George. I had the priviledge of living with Rob, Dean and Daniel for a year. As we sat around the table and shared our hopes, dreams, and laughter, I found myself catching a glimps of the Kingdom of God. Jesus told a story about a fellow having a dinner party and inviting certain guests. The only problem was these guests gave excuses not wanting to come. So in their place the host told his servants to invite everyone, those on the street, those poor and hungry, those without friends, those without status. I witnessed a table full of people from different races, different backgrounds, different beliefs (spiritual and political) enjoying a meal together and listening to the stories that surround our lives. I anticipate more highly the period in time when this will happen to all people, all nations and Jesus will be our host.