Advent and the unexpected

Advent is my favorite season of the year. The scandal and beauty of Jesus’ birth never ceases to amaze me, and I think Christmas trees are pretty much the most awesome decorative item ever.*

One good thing about not being in a traditional ministry position this year is that I don’t have to participate in Advent/Christmas nonsense. By “nonsense” I mean things that in the church world can end up being distractions instead of aids to understanding the season. Examples of Christmas nonsense include: Decorating Committees bickering over whether to have red poinsettias or red AND white poinsettias this year; Christmas pageants that are showcases for child and/or adult talents, instead of opportunities to revel in the stable birth.

This year, I’m going to invite our little (VERY little) community to gather and celebrate that this weird, crazy, awesome thing really did happen. The Messiah, the long awaited one, really came here, to us. He was not born in a castle or even a decent home. He was born in the middle of life going on in an occupied territory, born to a woman passionate about the very thought of God’s justice and love, born in a place made for animals.

What a story. What a wild, unexpected, strange beginning for the Messiah. Should I be so surprised that my own life is so touched by the unexpected and the mysterious? Considering whom I follow and His life’s circumstances, maybe I should be a little less welcoming to the understandable, and a little more welcoming of the unexpected.


*yes, yes, I know their pagan roots. IDK! I love them!


3 Responses to Advent and the unexpected

  1. reallifeinsc says:

    I love Christmas trees too…and I don’t think I’ve ever heard Jesus’ birth described so beautifully as just now. It’s a humbling thought, knowing he could have been born anywhere, at any time, and He was born in those circumstances. What an adventure it must have been for Mary to give birth to the Savior! Talk about a birth story that can’t be topped!

  2. “This year, I’m going to invite our little (VERY little) community to gather and celebrate that this weird, crazy, awesome thing really did happen”……..It is amazing to see that sometimes we need to share that we have a little–VERY little community–and I don’t know what they need to do that. I am a pastor of a small community, sometimes I feel weird to even share it, but God keeps taking me to empty myself from my own expectations. This is part of what I share in my post this afternoon:
    “The Temptation to be relevant, to do something that is needed and can be appreciated by people–to make productivity the basis of our ministry. This temptation is difficult to shake since it is usually not considered a temptation, but a call. We make ourselves believe that we are called to be productive, successful, and efficient people whose words and actions show that working for God’s Reign is at least as dignified an occupation as working for any other company.
    The temptation to be spectacular, to force God to respond to the unusual, the sensational, the extraordinary, the unheard of–and then to force people to believe. We have come to believe that a service is valuable when many attend, a protest or demonstration is worthwhile when television cameras are present, a study group is worth having when many want to be part of it, and a church is successful when many desires to become members. The more insecure, doubtful, and lonely we are, the greater our need for popularity and praise.
    The temptation to be powerful, we can not imagine that any good can come from giving up power or not even desire it. Power can take many forms, but it is always the illusion that life is ours to dispose of.”

    As pastors and ministers, as members of a congregation, as lay speakers, as District Superintendents and Bishops, as Elders or Local pastors we face these 3 temptations all the time, and we feel that our worth will come when we can fulfill these three areas, I know that I can felt into this very easily. Thinking that my worth as a person, pastor or husband will come from being relevant, spectacular and powerful. Thinking that unless I fulfill these three areas I am being productive. So when I measure myself with other ministries and congregation, when I see the long process to become an Elder or try to be myself with my fellow ministers, when the position of a pastor has such a high stigma and when being broken, vulnerable and powerless is not a general rule; that is when friends like Jeff, John, Don and Tom can remind you that the call you have is given by Abba and that I don’t have to do anything to earn God’s favor.

    Megan, your Very small community is what God has for you and for me in this moment, let’s share it together and know that Jesus came into a very simple and humble place surrounded with a VERY small community….

  3. shauna says:

    Oh I love Advent. its one of those things I miss from my old Episcopal life…church calendar! Advent candles! BUT…I still look forward to this season for real. The mystery of waiting in the dark for the Light to come. As part of the very little community, I am so glad we are celebrating this event together. I’m bringing the bread and the wine and a very grateful heart that God loved us so much, He came to find us.

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