Worship with Us This Sunday - 10:15 a.m.
I am finding a new Advent resource excitingly rich. A number of authors have been gathered to write a short piece for each day of the Season of Advent and beyond. You can purchase the book, God With Us from Paraclete Press. I chose to sign-up for a daily e-mail which contains, I presume, much of the same material.
One of the recent articles written by Richard John Neuhaus reflected in part on Matthew 24 which was one of the texts for the first Sunday in Advent. Neuhous noted those in Noah’s day were "lost in eating and drinking, in marrying and giving in marriage. In a word, we were lost in living what we told ourselves was the good life. We wanted more and more of it, and the more we had of it the more we longed for what was beyond the reach of our longing or the grasp of our possessing."
Most often when I heard this text growing up the connection between being alert and being lost seemed distant if even in the conversation. Reading and re-reading the Matthew passage in concert with Romans 13 and Isaiah 2, I was struck by just how one could be lost in the now and miss being present to the day. There really is a difference between these two postures when considering life, even the good life.
One of our folks is working on a counseling degree. He told me recently the number one issue among Americans, Westerners, is anxiety. This fits with the built in need to achieve most of us get programmed for in our Country. Naturally if our being is confirmed in achievement, getting lost in the now is really easy.
Maybe you have had the personal experience of lying awake at night desperate for sleep and much needed rest only to find it impossible to slow your brain down to rest. All you could think about was what you had to "get done," or achieve. The stress and pressure whether self-imposed or perceived from the outside is enough to keep us so focused on the now in terms of what we may accomplish that being present to the day is impossible.
Could that be one thing Jesus was getting at? We become so lost in the now, as Neuhous describes, that we fail to be alert to the really important things that comprise the good life. Present to the day would be something like my new friend Jim Palmer setting out to chart a new course where the experience of God in the other was more routine than extraordinary. In other words, being present to all human relationships means more to living than accomplishing. It is not an either or. We all need to finish our tasks, projects, assignments whether at work, school or home. But, we may become so preoccupied in those endeavors we miss the presence of God – we are lost and so caught up we cannot be found.
This Season of Advent may be one wherein the external pressure imposed by media and advertising needs not be internalized creating the anxiety that is inherent in to the question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" Instead, be present to the now and find the gift of God in others. Special relationships bringing special moments magnifying the grace and mercy brought in Jesus, the Christ.