Preparing for Advent
by David Dahl
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” ~-Isaiah 2:3-6
I’m not that great at the English language. I’ve learned more how to abuse it than use it properly. But it’s what comes to mind as the Advent season arrives. For as poorly as I use this language, I’m going to begin with an English lesson.
In the English language, there are three basic verb tenses. They are: Past, present and future. One way to describe Advent, is to say that we Christians operate in all three verb tenses at the same time.
Advent is not a preparation time where we decorate and buy presents “just for fun.” It’s a time when we patiently and anxiously anticipate Christ’s appearing – not just in a “long, long time ago in a place far, far away” kind of sense – re-enacting an old story. We actively watch for Jesus to appear freshly into our lives. We anticipate the Holy Spirit’s empowering us to act as God pours His light into us to the point it pours out of us.
Here’s God’s Upper Story goal: that the most impressive Christmas light display is not the motorized reindeer in your front yard; it’s God’s light pouring out of your heart. Towards that end, Advent prepares us for heaven when we will see Jesus as clearly as the Shepherds did that night as they wandered into Bethlehem following the direction of angels.
In the present, we bring out the past: those things of all good Christmas’s that have past and make them part of this Christmas. So on Wednesday nights this month, we will be sharing in a meal and observing a very old Christian tradition – the Jesse Tree. Bring your friends, come and experience how the ancient past informs your present and future!
And in this season, we’ll sing songs and carols and share special treats. We’ll send cards, make phone calls and visit family. We’ll enjoy candlelit worship. It’s a beautiful season reminding us that God is with us.
It also reminds us of a very close future – a time that Isaiah, and Jesus, and Paul describe as a time of judgment – a time when accounts are settled – not always comfortably – but always rightly – a time when two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left, and a time when at long last, swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, and we will experience God’s amazing beauty and a thrilling kind of peace.
This present Advent, heed Isaiah’s words: “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
Get ready. Clean house. Open the doors to the secret places. Let the Lord who knocks come in and dine with you. And while you’re at it, join us in church and bring a friend!
Keep and Live the Faith!
-Pr. David G. Dahl
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