Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Comfortable Lives and Advent

Tonight, at our midweek Advent service, we sang the hymn "Comfort, Comfort, Now My People" which allowed us to join the prophet Isaiah who said,
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:1-5)
The time of Advent is a favorite of mine. The reflection of the coming of Jesus to usher in the fullness of the Kingdom is a great source of hope for me. But all too often, Advent is short-circuited. We turn it into just a holding pattern for Christmas. We use it as a preparatory season for Christmas and we shop and consume and buy and spend. We fill our lives with a massive amount of luxuries that make our lives comfortable. Are we able to hear the words of Isaiah in the glare of our iPads? with our earbuds cranked up? bellied up to the all-you-can eat Chinese buffet?

And believe me when I use the first person plural, I mean it... it is not just a rhetorical device. I struggle with my desires and my relatively comfortable life. My home. My blackberry. High-tech athletic gear. Video games. Means and ability to buy quality, organic, local food at the farmer's market. My attempts to rationalize greater consumption. When I face it all I have to admit, I have a very comfortable life.

Do our comfortable lives interfere with our hearing the hope in the return of Christ? Can we hear that the lives we believe are comfortable are in fact not. Is this a reason we more often than not we think about Advent as nothing more than a pre-Christmas warm up? Where is the urgency in praying "Amen! Come Lord Jesus!"?

The coming of Jesus at the end of time is not just about our eternal life. There are real and concrete realities for our us and our world. Jesus' birth, death, resurrection and return all point to a cosmic upheaval that will transform the world into a truer and deeper reality where the world and us along with it are made into the people God has always meant us to be. This Advent I would hope we are all given a glimpse of that vision, so that we might see the power sin has over us, and turn to desire God's vision for real and abiding life, rather than the vision presented to us in high-def.

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