Dear Members and Friends,
Give us the grace and the impatience to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes, to the edges of our fingertips. We do not want our several worlds to end. Come in your power and come in your weakness in any case and make all things new. Amen.
-Walter Brueggemann, 21st century
“Grandpa! You want to play with me!” The door had just opened and we had barely walked into the door. Actually, she first leaped into my arms and gave me the biggest hug I have ever received from a 2 year old. As I set her down the first words out of her mouth were more request, even demand, than invitation. And off we went to the playroom to find play-doh and start playing.
The next day we moved on from one granddaughter’s home to the home of three more in Atlanta. These girls are 12, 9 and 5 years old, yet their excitement at the arrival of their grandparents was equally as strong. There were hugs to share, Science Olympiad projects in process to share and explain, games to be played – like staring contests and “no-laughing” contests, French Toast to cook together, and lots and lots of energy to expend – always needing a grandparent’s attention or participation.
What if God’s arrival in our world and in our lives evoked as much excitement, joy, and enthusiasm from us? Does our participation in the Season of Advent – a season of waiting, anticipating, and expecting the arrival of God in our world and in our lives once more – indicate that this might be our response if and when God arrives?
Perhaps instead of excitement at God’s arrival we are fearful? Perhaps we fear it will be a time of judgment instead of a time of joy. We anticipate it will be a time of change and transformation, but we fear just what will be changed and transformed. It might be all the things that we find so enjoyable, so beautiful, so fun, so meaningful. So many messages from pulpits and Bible classes over the years have suggested that so much of the world is sinful and to be avoided so that we have a sterilized view of heaven and God’s desires for us.
The creation story in Genesis 1 reminds us that God created everything in the world and God created all of it GOOD! That does not mean it has not been corrupted or worn down with use over the centuries. It does not mean it cannot be misused in a bad way. But it does mean it is basically good, that God was pleased with it at its creation, and that any change and transformation God will bring will more likely be in the way of repair and restoration, not trashing and starting over completely new.
Perhaps our excitement at God’s arrival is also diminished by the distractions in our lives? We have a tendency to be immersed in our devices – our computers, tablets, laptops, smart phones – to the extent that we miss some of life around us. We miss some of the beauty of the natural world. We miss some of the interactions with grandchildren, and children, and spouses, and friends. We miss some of the possible surprising places where God might show up: in the stranger we encounter on the street corner, in the grocery line, at the doctor’s office; in the difficult person we have to work with or share space with; in the honest discussion with the friend whose political views are different. We never know where God might show up and bring reconciliation, healing, and peace. It might be here. It might be today. It might be now.
So it is that Jesus encourages us to “Watch, pay attention, stay awake, for the hour is coming …” (Mark 13:35). So let’s lift our gaze from the screens of our devices at least little more than usual this Advent season. Let’s enter the season with some tingling in our fingertips and toes. Let’s join in Walter Brueggemann’s prayer asking God to increase our excitement in anticipation of God’s arrival. Who knows, if God senses that our greeting of God’s presence will be an invitation to “play with me” and to overwhelm God with our attention, love, and sharing, then maybe, just maybe God might actually show up! And wouldn’t that be amazing!
See you in church.
R. Steven Hudder
Pastor, Christ Congregational United Church of Christ
Palmetto Bay, Florida