Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray
Correct – today is NOT Thursday (don’t worry, you didn’t miss 4 days) – but I wanted to send out this edition to get us on track for the 4 weeks of Advent.
So, Reader, Welcome to Week 1 of Contentment for Advent (yes – “Contentvent” is the clever name we’re going with)
(for those of you around for a while – these four weeks resonated with a lot of you- so I’m recycling them again this year)
CONTENTVENT 1: I Hate Waiting
Here me Reader when I say …. I hate waiting.
Normally when I share my like or dislike of something, I assume some people will agree, and some will not. Some people like blue cheese some people (are wrong) and don’t. Some people support Liverpool Football Club, some people make bad life decisions and support Manchester United. Waiting, however, is a category all on its own. It’s so incredibly contradictory to our modern Western worldview that I can’t 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 wait very poorly.
We jockey for the quickest lane of traffic, the shortest line at the check-out, the fastest route home, and the quickest path to get anything done. Standing there getting anxious because the train has not pulled into the station the minute it was supposed to.
Don’t get me wrong, I am just as much an ‘efficiency junky’ as any of you (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? Who have I become if anyone sharing their problems, their issues…their life… with me becomes an impediment to my to-do list?
Advent – at its core – is all about waiting. We remember how the people of God waited for hundreds of years for their Messiah to arrive. We systematically open the little paper 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 so different from the one I grew up in means there are so many events that I just don’t understand. Things that if I were in Canada I would have some sense of when they finish, but here I don’t have a clue.
These things put me on edge because I have no real idea when they will be over.
In some ways that’s one of the things that makes waiting for Advent so acceptable:
But at its heart, it’s of course so much more than that.
That’s a hard kind of waiting.
We live in what is often called the ‘already, and not yet’, the Saturday between Good Friday and Sunday. Jesus has come and won victory, but it’s not yet over.
So we live in this weird liminal space and have no idea when it will end.
That’s probably good for us.
Forced to wait.
This is simple: go here and sign up for the CCCA Advent devotionals.
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 passage of scripture
- a short devotional
- a work of visual art
- a poem
- a piece of music
Every year has a central theme, and this year is:
The Vision of Isaiah: Praying with the Poet Prophet of Advent.
I’ve been reading them for quite a few years and I highly, highly, really, very much recommend them.
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!