Friday, December 05, 2008

Advent people

Read Psalm 102:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

God calls us to holiness, Paul tells us, and in this holy season, we prepare to live such lives. Holy lives that are lived quietly, yet do more and more for those God invites us to serve. Lives that focus on looking after our own affairs, yet being willing to use our hands, as well as our hearts and souls, and behalf of others. A holiness that invites us to draw closer to God, in love and hope, and teaches us how to treat those the world considers to be outsiders, by inviting them into our lives, our struggles, our dreams.

Some of this we already know. After all, as people of faith, however feeble or full, we have learned the 10 commandments, the Golden Rule, the two greatest commandments. We have been taught that we should love justice, do kindness, and walk humbly with God. We have heard the sermons and sunday school discussions about letting justice roll forth like a raging river. With the little children, we can sing of how Jesus loves us, and how Jesus loves all the children of God. We know so much that we live out great lives of know-i-ness.

But do we know how to please God? Have we discovered those insights, those intuitive flashes, those inner disciplines that allow us to know, yes, but more importantly, to be (as God intends for us) the sort of people who hear the owl hooting in the wilderness; who sees the teenager sitting at the mall like a lonely bird, while the rest of the flock is twittering away; who notices the heart-stricken face of the neighbor reading a letter from their dearest friend; who are willing to share a sandwich with one whose life has turned to ashes?

For these are the people we live with, we drive next to on the way to work, we sit with in a classroom, we brush past in the card store, we jostle elbows with as we juggle our packages at the post office. These are the people who look for a friend in every person, but see only blank faces. These are the people who hunger for affirmation, but hear only grumblings and mutterings under the breath. These are the people whose poverty of spirit could be filled by the simple act of a kind smile.

These are the people of Advent. The ones God has come for in Christ, and the ones God would have us come to know, as intimately, as lovingly, as gently as we want God to know us.

Prayer: Help us to please you, Wise God, not by reciting all the verses we have memorized, all the theology we have learned, all the knowledge we have attained. But by living lives of kindness, of justice, of love - for these are the signs of true holiness, the signs we see in the One who came for us that first Advent so long ago.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

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