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Advent, the First Week

I stood at the front of the church in Little Rock, Arkansas that Saturday morning, September 20th, 1997. I was breathing heavily, sweating a bit. For three and a half years (long years, Miska would say), we dated. Finally, I got my act together, strapped on my courage and asked Miska if she would take a big leap with me. And now it was happening. I had been waiting so long. She had been waiting so long. The pipe organ swelled with Pachelbel’s Canon in D, the two grand wooden entry doors at the back opened, and…

I have a friend who’s had a truly treacherous past few years. His world came unglued, and the life he has now is nothing he would have imagined. Pain of every sort has stretched his body and mind in unthinkable directions. He has cried. He has almost given up. He has cried some more. But in it all, he has prayed. And waited. He has waited so long. In recent months, glimmers of a new day have trickled in through all the broken pieces. He sits poised, wondering – might there be a hint of life again – waiting, and…

As Advent began yesterday, we stepped into God’s dramatic pause, God’s long and… Advent means “appearing,” and in these weeks, we wait for the celebration of God’s appearing – and we remember that the whole of our lives are in fact a waiting for God’s movement, God’s healing, God’s appearing. In this time, we learn that little of true value comes quickly. Ruin may bear down swiftly, like the wind; but redemption is a long, long work. This is not to say that God lumbers along, turtle-like – just ask Pharaoh who was chasing down Israel in the Red Sea or blind Bartimaeus who longed to be healed whether or not God ever moves immediately, with haste.

However, even when God demonstrates his agility, it is not because God has a sudden whim. God’s prompt, decisive movement rides freely out of the long, long story he has been writing. Pharaoh caught the brunt force, like a hammer dropping, of a God who had been redeeming his people ever since a disaster in a Garden. Bartimaeus first saw the color of the sky and the color of his skin on the day Jesus touched him by the roadside – but God had loved Bartimaeus from his mother’s womb. And Israel, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, cried out, “Hosanna! Son of David!” For hundreds of years, God’s people had waited for the Rescuer to come, the “Son of David.” Now, the crowd gathered, the prophet Jesus made his way into the city – could it be?

And…

Each Monday, we will gather here for a short reflection on Advent, as our way of entering God’s dramatic pause, God’s and… Do join us. And join in.

___

Also, each Monday, I would like to offer an Advent gift – my way of celebrating this time with you and my way of saying “thank you” for reading. This week, I am eager to give away (and tell you about) my friend John Blase’s book Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas. Christmas books can represent the very worst of the religious publishing industry. Not this book. John is a true storyteller, and his fresh narrative, lively imagination and literary artistry provide a wonderful Advent companion.

If you leave a comment, your name will be thrown in for the drawing for a free copy. You have until midnight on Tuesday, drawing Wednesday morning. If you don’t win, I have two suggestions: (1) buy John’s book – a good gift idea, by the way, and (2) come back next week to for the next gift.

18 thoughts on “Advent, the First Week

  1. Winn,
    I so look forward to this season and reading your reflections on this time of year. Thank you for your voice.

    Rachel

  2. This post was awesome. It really helps to take the time to consider Advent and Jesus and the meaning of it all in the midst of the Christmas season of haste and waste. I look forward to reading each Monday! 🙂

  3. Winn,
    I believe I know the friend that you speak of and the grace from God is that we (and our friend) don't wait and hope alone. When we wait and hope in community we have others that hope for us on the days we have no more hope to give. Thanks for reminding me of this.

  4. Can't pass up the chance at a free book. Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the advent post, we were on the road yesterday and missed the church's first week of advent. Good to read and reflect.

  5. Can it really be Advent already?!

    I'm so excited to join in with you, Winn!

  6. It's been a few years since we last chatted in Atlanta, but I enjoy following your journey.

    Chris

  7. Thanks for the recommendation! After years and years and years of exams and dreading the two weeks before Christmas, I'm losing my "Scroogeness"!

  8. I have all of your books and love them:) Your writing has always encouraged/challenged me, from your posts in Relevant to your blog here. I am excited about your Advent posts.

    I would love to win the book, if you recommend it so highly.

    Blessings.

  9. Thanks so much for reminding me of the season and what will soon be evident. I expect the presence of God moment by moment, but I believe some seasons bring us closer than others.I'm starting a journey of learning,cleansing,health and awareness for the days leading up to Christmas.I'm looking foward to reading what you will share with us.

  10. I'm a fan of John Blase! Sign me up for the give-a-way!

    As always, thank you for leading me into grace with your words.

  11. I read fast. It's not always a blessing. This post forced me to slow down and read each word, think each thought.

    Thank you for the pause.

  12. Winn,
    As always your writing causes me to pause and ponder. Redemption is truly a long work and I am challenged to become more engaged in the waiting process.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Linda

  13. i always know a book recommendation from you is worth looking into! thanks too for your words, winn. good reminder about advent. this used to be one of my favorite times at dcf…

  14. Well I cant help but throw my name in the hat since you already have a trip to B&N on my list to pick up the book! It seems like so many people here are in a season of waiting. Waiting to pass on to the great beyond, waiting for the arrival of a new life, waiting in hope that good news will come about family, jobs, heat… Thanks for the words of reminder that something truly miraculous is just around the corner.

  15. "Redemption is a long, long work" – great line there. Redemption seems to be a life long
    process, that will only be completed when we see Jesus face to face and truly behold him for all that he is.

  16. I really appreciate your advent thoughts. Jeff and I couldn't wait to see if we would win and we had to go out and by the book!

  17. Thanks, all, for reading and participating. I must say I'm really enjoying this little splash of gift-giving. I always enjoyed being the Santa at our family Christmases growing up – and I'm hoping this Advent rhythm will allow us to soak in the joy and generosity the Trinity offered when it sent itself among us in the form of a baby.

    So, all the names were tossed in a brown paper bag and Wyatt was the master of ceremonies. Our first winner is…

    Dayna Schoonmaker! Way to go, Dayna. Amazon will be making a delivery.

    See you Monday for our next reflection and our next gift.

  18. Winn,
    Thank you for bringing this treasure to my attention, I bought the book this week from Barnes and Noble and am journeying with my family through it during this advent season, blessings brother.

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.