Monday, November 21, 2011

Cycle Repeated: Year B, Advent 1

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This Week's Lectionary Texts:
Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

This Week's Podcast:

This Week's Reflection:
321 by Melissa Bridgman
Happy New Year! I never get tired of doing that with congregations. Most folks give me strange looks and think that I've lost my mind. But, for Christians, this Sunday marks the beginning of a new year on the liturgical calendar. After being reminded that Christ is King and reigns eternal, we begin the process of waiting all over again - waiting, watching, longing, hoping - for Christ to come.

I've often thought how wonderful it would be to skip all these days leading up to the big feasts of Christmas and Easter. On this Sunday, we are reminded of a quaking earth and darkness and sin. Man, it would be much more fun to just skip right over to that precious baby being born. So, why do we have to remind our congregations every year? Why do we have to go through this over and over and over again? I know of a woman who likes to say, "I know the end of the story already! Why do we have to do this?"

We Americans don't do well with delayed gratification. In fact, we have built a culture upon finding ways to have instant gratification - fast food, high speed internet access, on-demand movies - so waiting for something that we know will be wonderful is really, really hard for us. Why wait? Why repeat this process each and every year?

It isn't some deep theological reason. It is simply that we need to remember. We need to be reminded because we tend to get caught up in our lives and we forget. Oh, we say we remember. We say that we understand the implications of the coming of the Savior, but we really just gloss over it and carry on with our lives just like usual. So, once a year, every year, we come to a brand new year in the Church and on that first day of the new year, we hear scriptures that remind us that we are sinful, that the world can be very dark, and that we need to get ready. We are reminded of these things so that we reconnect with the fact that WE REALLY NEED A SAVIOR and face the promise that A SAVIOR IS ON HIS WAY. Not just a baby Jesus born in a stable all those years ago, but the King of Kings coming to save us when he returns. A Savior that we wait for, anxious and ready, a Savior who bursts onto the scene again and again.

We may know the end of the story already, but it isn't enough to know it. We need to live it out, to experience this anticipation, this longing, this hope, so that our waiting is active and our longing is shared. Our kids understand this, though they may be waiting for new Lego's or baby dolls or electronics. May we expectantly wait for the coming of the Messiah as if we don't know the end of the story, as if we are counting the hours until Christmas morning where we will find Him waiting for us beside the tree. May we understand the need to go through this cycle every year so that our faith remains fresh, active, and real. Happy New Year, y'all! Jesus is on his way.