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"The Waiting is the Hardest Part" by Andrew Nash

Thursday, December 6 
Luke 21:25-36

“Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down….” (Luke 21:34)

The first Gospel passage of the Advent calendar is probably not a passage most people expect. There are signs of the apocalypse, warnings against drunkenness and a fig tree parable. Real Christmas spirit stuff here, right? 

The lesson here is about faithful waiting. It’s a passage that can be summed up with a Tom Petty lyric: “The waiting is the hardest part.” This passage is somewhat meant as an antidote to anxiety. Jesus is teaching us how to wait for the right way, no matter what we are waiting for: 

  1.  Don’t be distracted. The dangers mentioned here are carousing, drunkenness and life’s anxieties. But Jesus could have mentioned smartphones, bowl games, travel, and family budgets. Don’t get caught up with the unimportant and make time for what’s important. 
  2. Be confident that it’s worth the wait. “Your redemption is drawing near.” Think about the restaurants you’re willing to wait for because of the quality of their food. We’re not willing to be as patient for fast food. Why? Because we’re confident that what we’re waiting for is worth the patience.
  3. You’ll know. When I was single, I had anxiety about my future spouse. Would I know she was the one? How would I know? And yet, I knew Alyson was the one within a week or so. The first paragraphs of this passage answer the question “How will we know when it’s happening?” with “You’ll know.” God will be with us while we wait and make our path obvious.
  4. Stay vigilant. Faithful waiting is not passive. It’s a call for engaged, active patience. “Stand up!” “Be ready!” Like a baseball player waiting on the next pitch, we’ve got to be prepared so that we don’t let moments pass us by.

Andrew Nash

at Thursday, December 6, 2018
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Sisters by Lydia Bunch

Wednesday, December 5
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all just as we abound in love for you." (1 Thessalonians 3:11)

Before my sister was born, my parents taught me to say "my sister is my best friend.” It was a mantra we repeated (or was more often quoted at us when we argued), but a reminder nonetheless that we had a friend in each other before we had anyone else. Now as a parent, and after helping Gideon prepare for the birth of his brother, I understand that my parents hoped that Abigail and I would have the same love for each other that they had for us.

Expecting a baby is exciting, but it is also stressful and filled with unknowns, especially for the new siblings. In the same way that Paul seeks to encourage and guide the church in Thessalonica, or parents prepare a child for a new sibling, so we also must prepare ourselves during Advent for Jesus' birth.

Jesus' arrival, and eventually his ministry were huge disruptions to religious and social systems. Perhaps during this season you can embrace that disruption and explore what it would mean for you to "increase and abound in love for one another and for all" in the same radical ways that Jesus showed love.

Lydia Bunch

at Wednesday, December 5, 2018
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“Is that really what Christmas is about, a baby?” by Linda Greason

Tuesday, December 4  
Jeremiah 33:14-16

“Behold, days are coming…when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel…He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.” (Jeremiah 33:14)

“Hey, unto you a child is born!” and with these words, I concluded reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to my eighth graders. My students were mesmerized by the classic story and found humor and camaraderie with the Herdman children. The rag-tag, fictional, main characters were mirror images of my students who were also from broken homes, poverty, and dysfunctional behavior. Both my students and the Herdman children were unschooled in the ways of the Christmas story as illustrated by the student who looked at me with all seriousness at the story’s conclusion and asked, “Is that really what Christmas is about, a baby?”

The prophet Jeremiah shared a similar good news with the Israelites. He proclaimed to his contemporaries that God was sending His righteousness to the House of Israel. Did they wonder, as my student did, if this was what God was all about; saving Judah? From what? Do we today totally understand God’s good news of Advent in our lives? Perhaps my student’s question is appropriate for contemplation even now.  Is Advent and/or the Christmas season only about a baby for you? Or, is it a yearly reminder that no matter how dysfunctional or broken our lives, there is hope in the fulfillment of the promise given by God to all of humanity. The Christ child is born and God’s righteousness has come to earth.

at Tuesday, December 4, 2018
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