Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Tis The Season

I love Advent. It's a celebration of warmth and light in a season of cold and darkness.

This Sunday marked the first Sunday of Advent and the pastor at our new church gave a great sermon on Psalm 42. We always talk about Advent of a time of waiting, but it's more than that. It's hopeful waiting. It's longing. A longing for Jesus to come save us from ourselves. I can certainly identify with this feeling.

All too often, I fall into the "if only" pattern of thinking. Ross calls me out on it a lot:

If only the weather were better...
If only I could manager my time better...
If only I were in better shape...
If only we had more money...
If only you were done with grad school...

The pastor pointed out that the "if only" pattern is futile because it implies that we're placing our hope in something besides God. Will what I'm hoping for really satisfy me?

Catholic that I am, I love communion; thankfully our non-denominational Christian church has it weekly. It's a good reminder of the only true Hope in our lives. Only in Christ are we fully known, fully accepted, and fully forgiven. And thankfully, it's not the amount of faith we have, but the Object of our faith who saves us and helps us endure our brokenness. We just need to take the first step and recognize that our unnamed longings are actually longings for a peace only God can give.

Have you found yourself futilely placing hope in the wrong place this holiday season? C.S. Lewis said, "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this earth can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." This Advent, I'm taking a good look at my priorities and taking the time to name my longings instead of wandering to the fridge when I feel restless.

Psalm 42
 1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
   so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
   When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
   day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
   “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
   as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
   under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
   among the festive throng.

 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God.

 6 My soul is downcast within me;
   therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
   the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
   in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
   have swept over me.

 8 By day the LORD directs his love,
   at night his song is with me—
   a prayer to the God of my life.

 9 I say to God my Rock,
   “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
   oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
   as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
   “Where is your God?”

 11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,

   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God.

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