The word “Advent” is derived from a Latin word which means “to come.” That is because the purpose of the season is to focus our thoughts on the “coming” of Jesus, in a manger long ago, in each age since then through Christ’s body, the Church, and in our lives today. As we do that focusing, we are therefore invited to engage in “purposeful waiting,” looking for where God might have already been moving in our lives, anticipating where God might move in the future, and then making tentative steps to align our current lives to what God is about to do.
When I started writing this sermon, my goal was to make it about thanksgiving, or being thankful.
I have a confession to make; do we do that here? I felt a bit anxious as I really had to think. “What AM I thankful for?” “What do I have to be thankful for?” The past 4 months or so have not been the most memorable, or even the most kind. And good things to be thankful for didn’t readily come to my mind. I was in the midst of a storm.
Our health may fail.
Our Relationships may fail.
Our jobs may fail- through no fault of our own.
Our finances may fail.
In July of 2014, my car’s odometer hit 87,000 miles. But I had the pink slip. My insurance was low because of its age. And I saw no repair costs on the horizon. It was therefore my hope to drive it another 50,000 miles. But as Robert Burns wrote, “the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go awry.” By September, I was looking at $6,000 to replace the engine. As I calculated how many more miles I might get out of it, along with the additional repairs it would need over the next 50,000 miles, it became obvious that the wisest choice was to get another car. So I looked at used cars, but couldn’t find anything reasonable. Then I looked at new cars, and eventually found a good deal. I would have preferred not have had to get another car, as that would have left the most money to be generous in the ways God speaks about in scripture. But since that wasn’t possible, I tried to keep the cost of a new car as low as I could.
Back in 2000, Mel Gibson starred in a movie that was titled The Patriot. It was a fictional tale about a Revolutionary War militiaman named Benjamin Martin. In a battle toward the end of the movie, his unit was stationed on a rise in the center of the American lines. As militiamen were hit by British fire, some began to retreat. Then more began to retreat. Then the entire unit ran away in panic. Seeing this, the commander of the British forces gave the order to “fix baronets” and charge after the cowards. Or so it may have seemed to the British commander.
When our son Jonathan was a toddler, I would keep him home with me sometimes instead of taking him to his babysitter. On one occasion, I was eating lunch at the living room coffee table and Jonathan was playing on the floor in front of me. He’d waddle over occasionally to beg for a bite of what I was eating. I’d give him something to eat, and he’d waddle off again to play. On one of his trips back, he stopped in front of the coffee table, and was waiting for his next serving. But as I cut up something for him, he grew impatient and reached out to grab it for himself. Instead of grabbing the food I was cutting up, however, he grabbed the blade of the knife.