Advent 2011: Hope
The Text This Week: Mark 13:24-37
Excerpt, Inclusive Translation: (vs. 33-37) “Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like an owner traveling abroad. They leave their home and put the workers in charge, each with a certain task, and those who watch at the front gate are ordered to stay on the alert. So stay alert! You do not know when the owner of the house is coming, whether at dusk, at midnight, when the cock crows or at early dawn. Do not let the owner come suddenly and catch you asleep. What I say to you, I say to all: stay alert!”
But stay alert to what? This, I think, is the challenge and the hope Advent offers us. Cultures are always changing – we live in a vastly different world than when the Gospel of Mark was written. The fig trees, natural wonders, and master-slave society imagery that decorate this passage are a little different from what we see these days as Advent begins. David Henson offers a cheeky-but-provoking rendition of what we seem to be staying awake for in this day and age:
“Keep awake! And be watchful for the best deals on flat screen televisions, for they will come and go like a thief in the night. Keep awake! Two will be shopping, but only one will be taken into the paradise of door-busting discounts. Keep awake! And the peace of a peppermint mocha and the grace of our Starbucks will be with you always, for the coffee shop will remain open all night to fuel the delirium of fevered consumerism. Keep awake! For you know both the day and the hour when the master of American consumerism will return. Keep awake! For Black Friday now begins on Thursday.” (http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Waiting-Still-Meditations-on-Advent-David-Henson-11-22-2011.html)
Advent is coming, the wings and wind of a fresh year in the life of the Church. It offers us something more than stuff, something beyond that frenzied feeling of not-good-enough that our consumer culture tries to hook us with. It subversively refuses to the use of violence and shouting matching to overthrow consumerism, but lures us with love, and the promise that we, too, are already a part of something better if we can just keep paying attention to it. Come light the candle of Hope with us as we move into this season of Deep Blue Waiting and try to discern together how to stay awake to the things that mattered to Jesus and offer us life, even still.
At the end of our gathering last week, Lisa Shirley shared an Advent Conspiracy video with us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9IN0W3gjnNE – !Advent is this time of aching for a world that could be – and of taking thoughtful actions to make that world a reality. Come join us at 10AM during the Sundays of Advent to join the Conspiracy.