Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray
Welcome to Week 1 of Contentment for Advent (seems like there should be a clever wordplay there...but I keep coming back to ConVent…and I’m not sure that's the direction we're going)
(for those of your around last year, these weeks resonated with a lot of you last year - so I'm recycling the four themes)
Advent Week 1: I Hate Waiting
Normally when I say I like or dislike something, I assume some people will agree, some will not. Waiting, however, is in its own category. It's so contradictory to our modern western worldview that it’s impossible to imagine anyone disagreeing with my hatred of it.
Waiting is inefficient. Waiting means someone is not doing their job well, or well enough, or fast enough. Waiting means we may not get to the next thing on our to-do list. Waiting means I reflexively pull out my phone because I HAVE to do SOMETHING.
Generally speaking we all wait poorly.
We jockey for the quickest lane of traffic, the shortest line at the check-out, the fastest route home, the quickest path to get done.
Don’t get me wrong, I am just as much an ‘efficiency junky’ as anyone else, if not more so. And I constantly struggle with if/how/how much/ when that’s a good thing or not. Getting stuff done is great… right? But what happens when our drive to get things done means we can’t tolerate any interruption to those plans?
When my push to never wait means I use the self-checkout (which I love) and online banking (which I honestly can’t live without) and shopping online (which I don’t know how I lived without)…..until suddenly I am so isolated from every other person that my day is spent optimizing human interaction right out of my life so that I never waste any time ever, for anyone?
But Advent - at its core - is all about waiting. Recalling how the people of God waited for hundreds of years for their Messiah to arrive. Opening the doors of advent calendars, slowly counting down the days. Consecutively lighting one more of the candles every week as we anticipate celebrating the coming of the Chosen One. As we look to the future for the coming back of that same Messiah.
For me, the hardest kind of waiting - for sure - is when the end is not known. Living in a culture that is drastically and fundamentally different from the one I grew up in means there are so many events that I just don’t understand. Things that I would have some sense of when they finish if I were in Canada, but I don't here.
When is this road construction going to be finished? OK, but WHEN is this new building going to be opened? What do you mean by “SOON”? Why isn’t this task already done? I was told ‘almost’ hours/days/months ago! How long will I stand in this line waiting to get my phone registered? What do you mean the power is out, come back some other time?
These things put me on edge because I have no real idea when they will be over. In some ways that's what I love about Advent.
Advent starts + Four Sundays ——> Christmas.
But at its heart, it’s of course so much more than that.
Christ's first coming + WE-HAVE-NO-IDEA-HOW-LONG——> Christ Returns
That’s a hard kind of waiting.
We live in what is often called the ‘already, yet not yet’, the Saturday between Good Friday and Sunday. Jesus has come and won victory, but it's not yet over.
But we have no guess at all how much longer it lasts.
That’s probably good for us.
Forced to wait.
This is simple: go here. Every year for both Advent and Lent the Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts at Biola University puts together a daily series that includes:
a piece of visual art
a piece of music
a devotional thought
all entered around a short biblical text. Every year they have a common theme that ties them all together. I've been reading them I highly, highly, really, very much recommend it.
God outside of time,
you have created us finite in time and space.
We have been created with a sense of our own limited mortality,
yet we also have a desire to get things done.
Give us rest,
Give us hope,
Give us peace…
In the waiting.
Help us to not just grit our teeth until it’s over,
But help us see what you are doing,
even in us,
during the waiting.
Talk to you next Thursday!