There is a running joke in our household about how much longer a basketball game is toward the end than it is at the beginning. My wife says that it takes an hour to play the last five minutes of a game. To my surprise — and to her delight — a sportscaster said of a game this weekend, when the score was close and fouls would be committed in order to (a) stop the clock and (b) create a change of hands (“turnover”): “If you were told you had only two minutes, twenty-three seconds to live, you would want it to be the next two minutes and twenty-three seconds.”
And I got it. Immediately, the broadcaster turned the tables and gave me a spiritual lesson from college basketball. I want the game to be over, as soon as possible — if not sooner; and that is because my favored team is winning. I want the game to continue, as long as possible — if not longer; and that is because my favored team is losing. They need time to catch up.
But I cannot be on both sides. Either I am on the side of “hurry up” or I am on the side of “wait.” I cannot be on both sides, that is, unless it is not a game, but it is life in the Season we just entered — the Season of Advent.
We stand at the threshold of a wondrous adventure. Christ is coming. Everything that God has to do for Advent is accomplished: Gabriel has visited Mary. Mary has conceived the Child whose name will be “Jesus.” Mary has visited Elizabeth, who was filled with the Holy Spirit upon their greeting. Joseph has endured his dark night of the soul, and discovered his vocation as father of Our Lord. The days of enrollment, a census we might call them, have been announced, and Joseph and Mary find themselves in Bethlehem, and in an animal stall, no less. It all seems so fast when we look back on it through the lens of our faith. But the pace is our choice; we rush through it in our lives full of living, even today.
Hurry up. Wait. Quick. Wait. Faster. Just another minute. We must be quick. Slow down. The time is here. Not yet. Right down to the buzzer. And then, it happens. And we are still surprised. Together, we feel the weight of anticipation; together we share the apprehension of the future. Together we share in the joy of His coming. And we do it over and over again, year in, year out.
That’s the sense of Advent. That’s the journey to Bethlehem. In these coming weeks we will find ourselves forgetting where we were going. And then there will be a reminder of why; out of the shadows will step a person or an opportunity or a reminder or a hope — and we will know that we are in Advent…and it could be the Lord. An angel appears, and we know that we are called to bear witness to the Light. Into our hearts comes a silent tug, and we go to a person or a place in order to do what might lift a burden.
Like a basketball game, Advent comes with a timer — the calendar. But unlike any game, Advent is the fullness of life, the appointed time for us to draw as close to the Living God as we can. And we draw close through the preparation of our hearts. We look up. We rise. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” Psalm 24: 7.
Who IS this King of glory. Come and see. Hurry up? Wait? Watch and pray. Soak in the Season. Let it fill your heart to overflowing. Be so fully prepared that should you be told that you have but one Season to live, it would be Advent. For that is precisely what we have all been given.
Maybe you have an interest in going deeper into God’s Word, as you enter this new year. Call on us at The Disciples College or the Mission for Biblical Literacy. Let us share some opportunities for study, discipleship, and or mission with you in this Season of Advent. Call Bob Harris: 770-815-9078 Eastern Standard Time.