As we light the first candle on the Advent wreath and open the first window on the Advent calendar, we turn our focus to watching and waiting, expectancy and hope. As we await the coming of the Messiah, we remember that the season of Advent is not simply about readying ourselves for the observances of Christmas but about setting aside time to prepare our hearts and lives to receive the gift that comes to us in the stable. We open ourselves to see the light of the infant lying in the manger and embrace what it means to travel through life guided by the light that darkness cannot overcome. On this Advent journey, we invite you to join with us in using these devotions, written by members of our church family reflecting on the lectionary texts for Sundays, for a daily time of reflection and prayer, and we wish you all the blessings of this season, as together we sing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
In this text it seems we are starting Advent with lots of chaos. How appropriate! The Christmas season itself can be pretty chaotic, the whole world seems to be a chaotic mess, our culture sure fits right in, even our own lives and relationships. Maybe Jesus is telling us not to get too distracted by all of the anxieties of life. All of these distractions can keep us from God. It seems so ironic to me that in the season of Advent, when the focus is on ‘turning toward God’, I am extra distracted by the very season itself!
Chaos has a lot of power. It’s easy to have a lot of fear. What can we trust in difficult times? The easy answer, of course, is God. The more difficult answer is to always align ourselves with all that is good, work for justice and peace in our own lives and the world, to look for God in all of life. That’s the kind of stuff that takes away fear, brings some order to the chaos and changes us and hopefully the world. Who knew chaos could bring hope?
Nothing says it better than my favorite few Bible verses. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”
God, walk with me in these days of chaos and busyness, that I might see the signs of your coming. Help me to trust in you with all my heart.
–may the Spirit move through the words of Sally Weller