I’ve been pressed this week on lots of issues: our church’s annual meeting; prep for three important meetings next week (including a planning retreat with our church council and staff to seek God’s future); plans for a trip to the African region where our church is putting in 30 wells; and a couple of other mission critical meetings–not to mention e-mails, prayers with people, and some glorious…glorious morning runs by the lake.
Today I had the morning for sermon prep, and it needed to be concentrated because I’m heading down to California to catch up with my mom. In the midst of the morning, an e-mail from a friend invites me to download Sara Grove’s Live Prison tour music, all of which is Christmas/Advent stuff performed live for women in prison. I push the button and download the music, and then it’s back to work on the sermon with a few phone calls in between.
By 1:30 I’m 90% done (the rest is always Saturday for me), and then lunch, and then packing to visit my mom in California. Once done, I inhale and sit for a few minutes and listen to the music. I’m suddenly reminded that we’ll blink a few times and suddenly it will be Advent – a season of waiting, of leaning into our longings, or shopping, partying, and stressing. I listen to Sara sing, “Star of Wonder, star of light, star of royal beauty bright…guide us…o guide us…o guide us.”
With Sara, I call out in prayer to our Lord this Christmas season – guide us – o guide us:
1. to be quick to confess sin and slow to accuse
2. to be quick to listen and slow to pontificate
3. to compassion, not cynicism; to hope not resignation
4. to wisdom and peace
5. to generosity (the sacrificial kind) and laughter
6. to see with the eyes of faith
7. to love well – honestly, with compassion, mercy, and humility. With truth telling, and courage as well.
8. through the mazes of confusion and consumerism, lust and fear, loneliness and discouragement, that so easily oppress us.
9. into the best, very best use of the precious moments that are our days, for there is no activity in the grave where we’re going.
10. so that, little be little, we become more like you Jesus.
I think, in this season of withdrawing and leaning into our longings, of the words of my friend Dietrich Bonheoffer: “Unless we have the courage to fight for a revival of wholesome reserve between man and man, we shall perish in an anarchy of human values… . Socially it means the renunciation of all place-hunting, a break with the cult of the “star,” an open eye both upwards and downwards, especially in the choice of one’s more intimate friends, and pleasure in private life as well as courage to enter public life. Culturally it means a return from the newspaper and the radio to the book, from feverish activity to unhurried leisure, from dispersion to concentration, from sensationalism to reflection, from virtuosity to art, from snobbery to modesty, from extravagance to moderation.”
What are you praying for this Advent?