Waiting in Hope.
Daily Advent Reflection.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Come fall on us, we fall on you
A thankful heart will be our rhythm
Come fall on us, we fall on you
A thankful heart will be our song.
A thankful heart
Prepares the way for you my God
– “Come Fall on Us”
Enter the Worship Circle, Vol. 1.
[Sorry, can’t find any legitimate sites to stream this song]
These daily Slow Church Advent Reflections are based on the Daily Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). We love for you to read and reflect along with us!
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Waiting. In our age of fast food and microwave dinners, we don’t know how to wait very well. And yet, Advent is a season of waiting, waiting with anticipation for the coming of the Christ child, and all the life that he brings. As today’s text reminds us, in waiting for Christ, we also wait for the coming and the transformation of the Holy Spirit. We await our own transformation; in our own impatience, we cannot transform ourselves. We commit ourselves to our church communities, and submit our lives to the work of the Holy Spirit there, but it is the Holy Spirit who transforms us.
We were created for communion, to abide deeply with God and with creation. In narrating the story of the earliest Christian community in Jerusalem, Luke emphasizes that the coming of the Holy Spirit guides the people of God into communion, into “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (v. 42). We cannot by sheer force of will, or other coercive means, make the Holy Spirit move any faster. What we must do, however, as today’s text and song reminds us, is to resist the allure of the “this corrupt generation” (v. 40), to fill our hearts with thankfulness for the transformation that God has already worked in our lives, and to wait expectantly for the further coming of the Holy Spirit. I can’t help but think here of the stories of Simeon and Anna, who were waiting expectantly for the Christ child, and who when the time was right, were ready to prepare the way and bless the coming of Jesus. Similarly, we must anticipate with hope the coming of the Holy Spirit in the midst of our church communities that will draw us deeper into communion in order that we might be able to recognize and greet the transformation of the Holy Spirit in our midst. So many people in our day have given up hope that the Holy Spirit will come upon their churches, and so they withdraw, either by disengaging or by opting out altogether. In the stillness of the Advent season, we remember all the ways that God has worked in our midst and transformed us, and we rejoice that God’s slowness is not whimsy nor stubbornness, but patience with us in our brokenness and with all of God’s creatures ( 2 Peter 3:9).
God will come in the fullness of time, and will continue the work of transformation in our midst, but will we be ready to greet the Holy Spirit – or will we have given up out of the bitterness born of ingratitude and impatience? May this Advent season be a time that we focus on remembering and praising God for all the ways that we have already been transformed and for the degree of communion – of sharing life together – that we already have, and may this gratitude wash over our life together in the coming year, as we watch and listen together for the coming of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
Chris Smith is co-writing Slow Church (forthcoming Likewise/IVP Books) with John Pattison. He is editor of The Englewood Review of Books, and a member of The Englewood Christian Church community on the urban Near Eastside of Indianapolis.