Advent Enlivens our Imaginations Jeremiah 33:14-16

Good Friday ShoppingTis’ the season to shop.  I never took to shopping.  I get a sick feeling when I go to a mall; no shopping experience meets my expectations once in the store.  It seems the deals aren’t as good as thought going into the store.  I end up feeling pick-pocketed of dough I needed more than that big box retailer.  Terri, rest assured I found some great deals on Cyber-Monday at Cabela’s and Best Buy.

The retailer knows how to win the battle of the buck.  They bet they can get me to act on an impulse, because they have made me believe it is too good of a thing to pass up.  Their advertisements make me think this it is a “can’t miss experience”; and life will hardly be the same again.  Their hype gets me in the stores to deposit my hard-earned money into their tills.  Buyer’s remorse is a real; the bigger the buildup, bigger the possible letdown.

12 Days of ChristmasThe twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and end on Epiphany.  This year we have thirty three days of Christmas, if we start with Black Friday.  I don’t blame on the retailer for doing their job; the problem runs deeper than our wallets.  The reason we can’t stand to wait for a good thing like the Christmas is found in our heart.  The church addresses our heart need; offering the Advent season.

We insist on Advent, not because we’re Grinches, or against retailers; we want to make the holidays “holy days”.  For that to happen there must be spiritual preparation.  Advent is a time to wait imaginatively for Christmas, not presuming God will come, but hoping and praying for God to come into our world in new ways.   This kind of waiting requires imagination.Imagination

Jeremiah’s words are promises there’s coming a day when God’s presence will be opened up to the world.  He could have not fully understand what it means to say “one is coming who will make things just and right” or the implications of what to expect from a “righteous branch sprouting forth from the line of David“.

Jeremiah was sure of one thing.  He knew things were going to be different when one comes; addressing problems the best efforts of humans hadn’t solved; even by tapping three times on ruby red slippers.  Lest we forget, Jeremiah prophetic words still resigned him to waiting.  While waiting for the first advent of the coming Christ, he prayed, wrote, and preached with great imagination unlike any prophet who spoke God’s word to God’s people while they waited in exile.Sprout up

For those of us on this side of Jeremiah’s promise, we know of the one who came through a crack in heaven, so God could squeeze through as a babe in swaddling clothes.  The first coming only brought hints of the full kingdom to come.  That coming wasn’t all of what God promised through Jeremiah.  It takes imagination to believe that though Jesus came upon a midnight clear long ago, God is still coming among us to make this world “just and right“.

We live in the advent of a coming again, with a longing for wrong to be right righted, evil to be thwarted, ugly to be redressed in splendor.  That is the hope of Advent.  The spirit of God wants to enliven our imaginations.  But we must be willing to do the spiritual work to catch glimpses of something grander coming than Santa down the chimney chute.  We must spiritually correct our vision to see beyond the surface of the season to know something bigger is going on than grandma coming to dinner and hoping not to get run over by a reindeer.

Most of what we will encounter will not necessarily encourage us to do the necessary spiritual preparation of this season.  The retailers have won the way by persuading us to buy goods whether it’s good for us or not.  The very fact we hasten the Christmas experience is a sign we’re impatient with our imperfect world and know someone must come to make things “just and right”.  The reason we sing “Silent Night” before Christmas Eve and “Joy to the World” before Christmas Day is we long for something and hope it is more than just another round of warm fuzzy feelings. Advent

We don’t have to be letdown this year because our Christmas experience did not recreate the emotion of the Christmases we knew as a child.  We can season the Season with the spice that makes things nice if we will do the spiritual preparation needed to join God in making things “just and right”.  May the clan of those who come to this season with imaginative expectancy multiply and grow among us at FUMC, Irving, so we may do God’s work while we wait for Christ to come again.

I can imagine how we might laugh and cry together these next few weeks in the same way we do when we watch Dickens’s Christmas Carol or Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.  Let’s pay attention to both good and bad experiences, so we may see them as cues from God who is coming again.  Let’s set aside the tensions that arise because family members can’t seem to be pleased.  Let’s refuse to allow obligation or costs of giving to take the fun out of gifts for those in need.  Let’s do the spiritual preparation while we wait during Advent, so our imaginations are fired with creative expression of the God who comes to partner with us to make things just and right“.

Howard BuffettHoward Buffet  is the son of Warren Buffet   He could choose a life of privilege, but instead he chose to work 1,400 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat in central Illinois and manages a 400 acres in Nebraska, 9,200 acres in South Africa, 2,900 more in Illinois, and 1,245 in Arizona, where they do agricultural research for the sake of feeding hungry.  Parade magazine tells his story in its December 2, 2012 issue.

When asked why he donates millions to the cause of hunger worldwide and has rededicated his efforts to address hunger by supporting Feed America, he tells of attended a Thanksgiving dinner at Harris Elementary School in Decatur.  He learned that 92 percent of the kids are on free or reduced-cost lunches.  He spoke with some parents who told him that school lunch is the best meal their kids get all day.  That shocked him because the school sits in a community that has the largest food-processing facility in the world for corn and the second largest for soybeans; 1,500 to 2,000 train cars roll out of those plants and through these kids’ neighborhoods every day.

Howard Buffet didn’t resign himself to wait passively for God to make things just and right.  This kind of inert response can cause us to lose our ability to feel.  Buffet was aroused by this new found awareness and in the midst of waiting for God to make things “just and right“; Buffet has committed his life to making sure no child goes to be hungry.  While waiting for God to intervene, he imagined what he could do in the midst of a divine delay.  He allowed his passions to be aroused while waiting. Imagine

We too can employ our imagination in caring, giving, and doing more while we wait for God to come and make things “just and right“.  Our imaginations can reignite the spark of the Spirit that burns as an ember in our souls.  Our passions can be aroused and our vision adjusted in the midst of our waiting, so we might touch people’s lives with the grace of God because we see more clearly the ways of God in our world.

Advent is a time to give back a portion of the gift of grace which we have been blessed to posses as daughters and sons of the kingdom of God.  While waiting; imagine what to do with God-given longings.  Spend these weeks imagining ways to refocus our desires that bring deep delight.  Visualize ways to give so the spirit of Christmas happens all year long.  Search out organizations that give glimpses of Christmas and donate you.

Christmas EarlyThis is a time for rediscovering the longing for God that can happen before every Christmas.  It is possible to discover what is missing in our lives during this season if we will enliven our imaginations with fresh thoughts; concerning the intrusion of God that begin at Bethlehem’s stable and continues as the Christ child intersects our lives.  Christmas can come early this year if we use our imagination to make things just and right.

Published in: on December 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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