Sunday, November 29, 2009

advent 1.1

Malachi 3.1-4

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in the days gone by , as in former years.

As Josh and I drove home from our Midwestern family Thanksgiving tonight, I watched the raindrops on the windshield catch and throw the glow of red taillights in front of us and white headlights from across the median. I thought about Advent, the Church's long-standing tradition of contemplating and preparing for the coming of the Messiah, an already-not-yet reality that is as crazy as it is lovely. Drew S (quoting someone else) recently reminded me that Advent is our opportunity to enter into theo-drama, which (having never read the theologian Balthasar who made the term famous) I took to mean deliberately and thoughtfully re-enacting the story of waiting for Messiah.

This year I am especially distracted. I am preparing for the hugest exams of my life, facing a variety of other school/work deadlines, and carrying a full plate of responsibility in my church community. I am also going through my first holiday season without a glittery-nail-polished, laughing and loving Grandma. And I am tired, not just the yawning kind but also the marrow-deep heart-weary kind. Watching the rain play with car lights tonight, I thought about how important it will be this year for me to stop and think about the waiting and the coming, and how hard it will be to find the time. Yet I also thought about how, in another sense, I feel as though I am living in the waiting, the weight of it wound up in my shoulder muscles, the longing for Good News audible in each accidental sigh.

Many of us are in this place: our lives are mini-theaters of waiting. My hope is in a Promise, an irrational (anti-rational?) faith that Word could become Flesh, that a green branch could grow out of the mess and burned rubble of human flailings, that those in darkness might see a Light, that the paradox of purification might bring joy and peace. Even so come.

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