Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Advent in September

Being in this land of in-between-ness (post-graduation/pre-call) has given me more time to think than I really care for. It has given me some time to set up house, do some reading and catching up, and re-teach myself how to cook meals that don't come in a box. I've been able to do some yoga and working out. I've explored some of the area - including finding the Target, all three Shop-Rite, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's, and discovering that now T.J Maxx is my favorite store. I've met plenty of wonderful people at Beau's church. I attend and contribute to the weekly lectionary study with our cluster-mates. But it's hard to shake the feeling that I'm doing what I was supposed to be doing. While Beau, praise be to God, is digging into his context and really getting his hands dirty, I am waiting.

Then God says, here, read this...

"We would like to have death and resurrection put together within one hour of each other. We cannot face the thought that God would keeps us aside for so long a time; we cannot bear to wait. And of course I cannot tell you how long he will take, but in principle I think it is quite safe to say this, that there will be a definite period when he will keep you there. It will seem as though nothing is happening; as though everything you have valued is slipping through your grasp. There confronts you a blank wall with no door in it. Seemingly everyone else is being blessed and used, while you yourself have been passed by and are loosing out. Lie quiet. All is in darkness, but it is only for a night." (The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee)

Waiting is hardest when we are in the middle of it, right? And it isn't a silent waiting; it is a time filled with questions: who am I, really? Is my identity to be defined by my work, or in my case lack of work? (What do I put down when the form asks for "occupation"?) Is my value calculated by how I am using  my (rather expensive) education? What do I have to contribute when I don't yet have a "context"? Am I hiding my lamp under a bowl, even unintentionally?

I didn't expect this to be easy, but I thought perhaps it would be less hard. I think we all dreamed about leading a congregation into the excitement of fall, not jumping on the train after it has left the station. But God I think has given me a new dream: how beautiful would it be to begin ordained ministry during the season of Advent, the season of waiting and hoping? As one promise is fulfilled, another lifetime of promise unfolds. Advent is my favorite season, where anticipation itself is a joy we experience together.

It just feels right to end like this:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel.

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