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Introducing Advent 2015

Ideas certainly have consequences when it comes to healing our interpretations. But what is needed at the core of our being in order… to shift from mistrust to trust, from reactivity to receptivity, is a great story heard repeatedly—a story of good overcoming evil, of God becoming man, of death and resurrection, of descending and ascending, of surrender and hope—a story personified since we are relational at our core.

— from The Relational Soul by Richard Plass and James Cofield

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For centuries Christians have marked time by observing a yearly cycle of celebrations and seasons based on the story of Jesus—his coming, his living, his dying, and his victory over death. We begin this cycle with Advent, which is a 4-week season of preparation leading up to the 12-day celebration of Jesus’ coming into our world that begins on Christmas Day. On January 6th we begin the season of Epiphany, which focuses on how Jesus reveals the glory of the Father through his life, miracles, and teachings. Then, beginning on Ash Wednesday, we observe the 40-day Lenten season focused on Jesus’ decisive move toward his death on the cross. Good Friday then gives way to Easter Sunday, which kicks off a 50-day celebration of Jesus’ victory over death when he rose from the grave. After those 50 days, we celebrate the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to pour out his Spirit on his disciples on Pentecost Sunday, which ends our observance of the Christian calendar and brings us into Ordinary Time (also known as the Season of Pentecost) until the next Advent begins.

As we mentioned on Sunday, Advent is not just a way of extending our celebration of Christmas earlier. There will be a time to celebrate our Lord’s being made flesh and coming into our world, but this is a season to cultivate longing for our Lord to come, just as the people of God in the Old Testament longed for the coming of their Messiah. It is a season in which we allow ourselves to feel tensions we might normally feel inclined to ignore or gloss over. Things are not the way they are supposed to be, and only One can make all things right and all things new. He is coming again to do just that, and the scriptures call us to wait for and hasten that day.

Fredric Sims composed a poem, entitled “Waiting,” to help us cultivate this longing, and he performed it in Midtown this past Sunday.

You can listen to his poem here:

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So…
When is it going to happen?
That’s my question every time uncertainty
speaks too loudly in my normal.
When mundane’s twang tastes too bitter on my tongue, I mean…
Come on, I had expectations.
Things should be settling in by now.
I’ve mapped out my path of life using friends, family, and my precious assumptions so…
It’s time,
Isn’t it?
Hasn’t my heart craved the next stage of life?
Finally see desires fulfilled.
I feel like a giant cup wanting to be
filled to the point that
I runneth over at last
having the joy of…
Someone holding my hand, a lover.
Or what I hold in my hand, a child.
Or a title, achievement.
A dream job with a financial security blanket that I can curl myself in at night,
Making my worries fly away like they never had a home in my soul.
But all I have is…

Soon.
Not yet.
Perhaps.
Someday.

Honestly…
I’m afraid.
The future feels like a scary movie
I’ve taken the wrong turn onto the back road leading to a place where
Fear will have its way with me,
Making nightmares a reality
And joy just a fairytale,
Something read, but never real.
It, living in my fantasies
But dead, in reality.
A suffocating sadness
Leaving only one whisper.
“This is forever, stagnant”.
There are so many desires
Planted in the field of my heart—
I, standing still,
Hoping to see them blossom in season.
But I never seem to
Leave the season of waiting.

Waiting for these things to bring
Completion.
The coming of the final dawn, breathless.
Beauty so amazing, speechless.
Glory so expansive, greatness.
Joy so consuming, endless.
The ceasing of every pain
The end of wanting
The beginning of gain.

So when is it going to happen?
That’s my question.
When is its arrival?
It must be at the return of the Owner.
The one who can make
The tree limbs bend
And the wind kiss its ruffled brow.
Make mountains bow and
Hurricanes tremble at his voice.
What I’m waiting for…
Is Jesus,
The essence of eternal life,
For he himself is the future.
A future worth waiting for.
Living for. Dying for.
Something better.
He is better.
So let me rest and wait,
For a greater treasure.

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