Today, I attended my daughter’s chapel service at East Side Lutheran School. I remember each time I go to Chapel on Wednesdays why I enjoy this school. Listening and singing along with the k-8 sing God’s praises enlivens my soul. Each element of a service, simple or complex, is meant to illuminate God and his Word…and ‘Oh thank God I received much illumination’ this morning. I need Advent.
My soul is often darkened by the vices of this life. But lo their breaks the next season of the church and I am accosted by His light. Now, so bright I lose myself. Else, constant stream peering through I draw nigh to find myself. I need Advent to illumine the darkness of my heart as much as I need the sun to illumine the world before me.
I hear John the Baptist, all rugged and true, calling, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” At my best, much confidence arises, and I can say, “I am ready.” Every other moment though I cry out, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” Advent is a magnet that draws out my true intentions. Why do I do what I do? Do I really love? Have I lived my life well?
I recently wrote an old boss of mine. He will be retiring soon in his 60’s. He is by all measures a good, even a great man and a wonderful Christian. He wrote back saying, “It’s bitter sweet thinking about retiring. On the one hand it is nice to be able to focus on other things but on the other hand it is one step closer to being off of this earth sooner…” The Day is drawing nigh. Like moths around a flame our moment of firing will come. In the seasons of the church we are asked pointed questions about holiness and our openness to God and his Word.
The way I developed myself through the years keeps me asking “What’s the next thing?” Specifically, what mountain do I run up next? I have been graced to achieve several of the big goals I have set for myself (Master’s Degree, being an Apologetics oriented Pastor, taking part and hosting a debate on God’s Existence…to name a few). And, although I know there is much more to go after, I am reminded that I often am asking the wrong question. The real question is, “What and who am I loving?”
This may at times also be characterized as a sort of mountain. In C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” we are all asked to walk toward the Mountain that God himself resides at. Yet, so many find this difficult. We take our witless excuses and dress them up to make them sound like sophisticated reasons why walking toward the mountain is not the right thing for us now. Witless dressed beautifully, is still witless. That nakedness will be shown for what it is on the Day. It may be easy to deceive ourselves now, but then even we will be horrified by the ruthless sight of our vices exposed and our loose preparation for Him.
Each year we hear the voice of one crying in the wilderness and we get another go at making a straight path for HIM. May the grace of bravery be upon us to push back the laziness and attend to holiness.