One of the weird things about being in seminary, or working for a church, is that the faith that we claim to be at the center of our lives also becomes our school and our work. And that has some problematic side effects. How many pastors have woken up one day to realize that they haven't actually read the Bible except to prepare a sermon in years, or that they only pray when they're leading worship, or that they don't actually have time to do any of the great social justice work that they've been preaching about?
I was thinking about doing some blogging for Advent, and was struggling to come up with something that I hadn't sort of done before, when I realized that I'm involved in the work of multiple faith communities, all of whom are approaching Advent in different ways. So I thought I'd follow along, in blog form, with the approach that we're taking at Crossroads. I thought this might be one way to hold myself accountable to being an Advent participant, not just an Advent worship planner or preacher or Bible study leader.
Advent is a season of the Christian year that is focused on themes of waiting and preparation for the arrival of Jesus--of Emmanuel, "God with us." The texts that we read in the season (at least for folks who follow the lectionary, which an assigned group of texts over a three year period) carry a double meaning. We are both waiting, in a narrative sense, for the birth of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas; but we are also, in a real sense, waiting on God's activity in the world. In some favorite seminarian terms, we live in the tension of an an "already-not yet" faith.
(Seminarian protip: use the word "tension" a lot.)
At Crossroads, a small congregation that I work with, we've divided the four weeks of Advent into four themes, based on different texts from the gospel of Luke. Our theme yesterday, the first Sunday of Advent, was "Look." We are a people looking for signs of God in the midst of the storms and tumult of the world. So this week I'll share some brief reflections on the theme of "looking" for God.
Next week will be "Prepare." Then "Proclaim." And then "Rejoice."