The Rev. Robert W. Lee (IV) is an ordained pastor and author of the book, “Stained Glass Millenials.” A sought-after speaker, Rob also writes for several publications. A friend of the Abbey, we are pleased to present Rob’s writing to you on this first Sunday in Advent.
My wife and I are sitting here on Advent I bemoaning the tax reform bill in the US and the current state of affairs we find our empire in.
Something else is going on for us too —
For Stephanie and I, this Advent there is no tree, there are boxes. There is no garland, there is packing tape. There are sharpies lying around to quickly scribble on boxes and there are plenty of things left undone as we prepare for our big move. For me, it is a move home. For Stephanie, it is a move to a new town with new and familiar faces. I write this because for me, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in the Advent God tonight.
From its outset, Advent was eschatological in nature. That is to say it was as much about Christ’s return as it was his birth. As much as Advent is about beginnings it is about endings. Stephanie and I are putting our hopes and our dreams into boxes and shipping them off to a new space. But while we are excited we grieve the end of one chapter.
That’s the thing about our God. God is whimsically delightful in making endings into beginnings and beginnings into endings. There is something about God’s nature that is delighted in moving boxes because God took the greatest risk of all in moving into the neighborhood two millennia ago.
I can’t say for certain what that means for you, but for me that means we are to be the incarnate risk takers of the modern day. We are to be people deeply concerned with rendering unto Caesar what Caesar deserves and turning over tables until that is accomplished. Advent is a time for revolution and revelation. If you’re looking for a sign, this is it. If you’re looking for a moment, this is it.
We are beautifully created for this moment, just as the Advent flame flickers for me amidst the moving boxes I know this is the moment I was created for. Just as we sit here on the precipice of a new life for my family, so does Advent expectantly wait for all that’s in store when God finally arrives as an incarnate human.
As I sit here and write this, I can’t get that old (I’m 25 so it’s old to me) song out of my head from the mid-90’s: “What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us—Just a stranger on the bus—‘Tryin to get home.” Well Joan Osborne, look out, because God is literally one of us this coming Christmas.
What do we do with all this? it would be slam dunk for me to blame all of this on tax reform or the Cardassians from Deep Space 9 (Not the Kardashians, silly), but I think maybe we just sit with this Advent feeling for a moment and then be Advent risk takers in response to these actions. After all, Christ becoming incarnate was a response to the years of empire building and messing this world up.
So take a deep breath, and then go out and change this ole world for the better. I think we’re too quick to call each other out and far less able to engage in the beauty of love. After all, the greatest act of love compels us to risk and to act on things like turning our face toward the roughness of life.
But for now, sit, wait, listen, and feel. The Cardassian Empire was eventually defeated in Deep Space 9 and so will the empire that has been built on tax reform and Donald J. Trump. So take heart, God is moving into the neighborhood. This is truly good news.