Begin With The End In Mind
That’s why Jesus tells us that there will be signs to tell us the time, but we will never know the time. For Advent is all about getting ready for Christ’s coming – even though we know him to be present in our hearts, in the compassion of strangers, and in the letting go of troubles that we can only solve through the hands of the creator!
Oh, what a great artist the Lord is, to be able to work with my brokenness and yours to make beautiful things when we let go and submit to God’s hands. Now, that does not mean that we aren’t involved or responsible. It means that faith can give us a vision of greater things, and the greatest thing is found through God’s love realized by someone who can look in the eyes of another and see their reflection as God’s beloved.
There’s a great story going around about this Olympic Athlete named Tatyana McFadden. She was born in Russia with a birth defect and abandoned to an orphanage. Deborah McFadden, herself a survivor of a debilitating disease, was part of a delegation from the US visiting the orphanage. She had no desire to adopt a child, but she and Tatyana saw each other as beloved and there was no other choice.
Tatyana moved to Boston and though she had no use of her legs she fell in love with sports. By age 14 she decided she wanted to be an Olympian. By age 15 she had won a Bronze and a Silver before even starting high school. Unfortunately, they would not let her compete in track events in her wheelchair. That’s when Deborah stepped in and sued the school board – not for money, only for participation.
The result caught fire and eventually became the law of the land that all schools offer equal access in sports and fitness programs. Tatyana is now a graduate student, has earned 17 Olympic Medals, and is starting an advocacy program called “Start Your Impossible.” And all because someone saw a little girl crawling around on her hands and wanted her to know that she was beloved.
The thing is, there are little apocalypses – small revelations of truth – that happen all around us, or at least could if we stay awake. There are even things happening right now that our forbearers would think of as entirely dystopian – things like racial equality, women’s rights, and the acceptance of the LGBTQ community – that are actually proving to be ways to experience God’s presence here and now.
Yes, these texts are here to confront us. They are here to ask us what kind revelation we are hoping for. And they are here to remind us that we are to expect God to show up this Christmas, even here and even now.
So, our waiting is not a passive thing. It should gather momentum and force like the kettle described by Isaiah. In our waiting we should know that the heavens were torn for God’s spirit to descend on Jesus, and so that same Spirit is loose in the world in wheel chairs and coffee shops, in kindness to strangers and forgiveness of even our own shortcomings. Yes, let’s get ready, but not just for Christmas. Let’s get ready for the end.
For if we begin with the end in mind, we can’t help but give glory to God here and now in every chance encounter and every beloved soul that reflects God’s face to us. It’s just that simple, and it’s just that hard, but to God be the glory no matter what. Amen!