Advent Early On

Every year after Thanksgiving I’m surprised when the church calendar says it’s a new year. Advent marks the beginning of the church’s annual liturgical review of the great stories of the faith.

Traditionally it starts with the prophets, who warn that God is among us and will show her/his self even more clearly in the days to come. Get ready! they shout. I’m always puzzled at this exhortation. How can a human being get ready for God?

It’s this great human gift and problem of looking into the future. As far as we know, other mammals aren’t able to imagine the future in the same way we do. They live their lives much more in the “now” than in the “then.” But humans are so in love with the future, we think anything is possible there. The allure of a future we can imagine makes us all less attached to the present, I fear. We put off anything we can. The present? Well, we’re just passing through.

The answer for me is the spiritual skill of waiting. It’s some of the toughest emotional work we do, holding ourselves in the present while expecting something in the future. It’s not about gifts and presents, I think. It’s about waiting for God to be fully revealed to us and to a hurting world.

I will be thinking about Waiting this Advent. How hard it is, why it’s important to grow that emotional muscle, what living in the present while expecting the future feels like. I think it’s the central work of faith, managing the now and then. A belief that both the present and the future deeply matter. 


No More Comments

I spend some time every day on the internet, social media and news sites included. I have come to the belated conclusion that comments on stories should go the way of dinosaurs.

In my lifetime, I have had to face, listen to and read more than my fair share of ignorant, hateful and biased responses to things I have said, written or decided. Now that I am no longer a public leader (thanks be to God), I don’t have to subject myself to that kind of human detritus any more. So why do I do it online?

I’m convinced the ability to post whatever comes to mind is one of the worst things about technology in our generation. People can wound, judge, belittle and hurt others without the normal consequences of face to face communication.

So here’s to trying to ignore anonymous rantings on public stories. I’m going to try to hold on to my tenuous belief that the more educated, thoughtful and socially responsible people in the world don’t write comments because they are too busy being useful, kind and helpful in the world.

As for you haters out there, I’m so done wasting my time on you. You never grow up, and you never go away. Time I do.