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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Advent; keeping time


Who keeps track of time? When you are traveling by car, time is measured by gas tank condition and restroom needs. When you are traveling by air, time is measured by boarding times, and layover times. When I was in elementary school, time was measured by favorite TV shows and summer vacation. In High School time was measured around curfews and upcoming dates. Collegiate time was measured around terms (or semesters), deadlines, and books read. Time gets measured differently according to the place we are in life.
I measure time at 53 in a whole different way that at 23. Time on a Saturday morning with a free schedule is completely different than time in a waiting room during surgery. Time in worship and time in conflict are not the same. Time for the poor is not the same as time for the wealthy. Time in jail goes at a different rate than time on the beach.
When the early church was underground, hunted and persecuted, their time was fleeting, precarious and precious. They did not know if they would see each other again. Some of them would be arrested, tortured and killed. When time is that slim and intense, Christians worship differently than when the emperor is a believer and faith is not only allowed, but enforced. When the church was under the sponsorship of state power, it had the luxury of time. When it was running, time was a scarce commodity.
In the 24/7 world of the web/cable/cellphone/blogs/ how do you measure time? What clock ticks for us today?
Underneath this time-rambling is my curiosity about the real value and purpose of Advent. Being in a new cultural environment for my 2nd year, I am genuinely grappling with what advent means and how we meaningfully measure time in the faith community. Can we assume we have lots of protected time, and the chief purpose of Advent is to rehearse familiar customs and return to familiar cultural traditions? I sense little urgency in my life or others, but more a resigned endurance to get through this season without too much credit card debt and too many new pounds around my middle. I see Advent more as a unique cultural doorway for non-believers to attend some holiday service with their family and we can make that impression of faith, a low key evangelism. It is clearly a family gathering point, when returning children, often with new spouses and children sit together and are proudly introduced. I feel that keenly when my kids travel all the way to California and meet our new community here. Relationships are built and strengthened.
But if this was the last Advent, if this was the last time we gathered for worship, would we behave differently?

7 Comments:

At 11:54 AM , Blogger Diana said...

What good questions, Don. I don't know that it's possible to recreate that sense of urgency that comes from being a more underground faith. But occasionally, I run into a believer with such a psssion, such a deep and loving desire for others to know Jesus, that I catch a whiff of it. I had tea with one this week - I pray her condition is contagious and that I am not completely inoculated by weariness, age, wealth or culture. She is young and intense and desires an older mentor. My guess is that this will be a very, VERY two-way relationship and I'm glad for that.

Because we cannot possibly consider decorating this year, Advent has taken on a richer meaning for me. I sense that waiting feeling more than I ever have. And I am grateful for it.

Blessings,

Diana

 
At 2:02 PM , Blogger Diana said...

Well, you know the fingers aren't quite in sync with the brain. I meant PASSION, not psssion, whatever that is. :>(

DT

 
At 2:05 PM , Blogger Diana said...

Well, you know the fingers aren't quite in sync with the brain. I meant PASSION, not psssion, whatever that is. :>(

DT

 
At 2:07 PM , Blogger Diana said...

Well, the fingers aren't quite in sync with the brain. I meant to write PASSION, not psssion. Sigh.

DT

 
At 2:20 PM , Blogger Diana said...

Well, the fingers just aren't quite in sync with the brain. I meant to type PASSION, not psssion, whatever that might be. Sigh.

DT

 
At 9:04 PM , Blogger Diana said...

I have absolutely NO idea why my comments seemed to be rejected by your site, then all showed up at once. So sorry! Need help with blogger protocol and technology. :>(

 
At 3:09 PM , Blogger Gary Means said...

Donn,
My memory is going. I can't remember who it was that said, "Let us always live with our death in mind" (or something like that). Augustine? Anyway, that phrase came to mind as I read your last question.

It makes me think of my friend, Don V. who is battling cancer. Everyone around him, especially the medical staff, is inspired by his vibrant, vital faith. Facing the very real possibility of death has transformed his approach to life. I pray that this will not be his last Advent. But I know that this Advent will be very special for him.

As I type this, the question comes to mind: What am I doing sitting here on the computer in my office, when my son is home from North Park?

I really appreciate you and your blog, Donn. Later, dude.

 

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