What are you waiting for? What Advent can do to fear at the end of the world.

Deer in the headlights
Deer in the headlights (Photo credit: T Hall)

I am an overly cautious driver to begin with, so when I know I am in the Texas hill country at night, and I have already seen 3 deer carcasses that day and five times as many deer warning signs, It is all I can do not to slip in a paranoid hawk-like state seeing antlers around every bend that actually just aren’t there.  In this country you have to anticipate Bambi if you want to make sure you keep safely on the road without a set of antlers wedged in your grill.

But, as I mentioned,  I am an overly cautious driver, which means I do not merely adjust my behavior to the possibility of coming across a deer at night, I base all of my behavior on the likelihood that Texas deer are suicide bombers viciously luring 4×4 Doge Rams to a most fiery and gruesome death.

I feel fairly certain my con-deer-acy theory is far fetched.  What I am also aware of, however, is that the expectations I bring to the road, especially when it is unfamiliar, radically changes how I actually approach it. 

Advent, as you may have heard, is a time to practice waiting.    Or another way to say this is to say advents is a time for us to question what we are waiting for, what we anticipate  on the road ahead.

We have to question these things because, like paranoid deer dodging driving tactics, our lives today are shaped by what we imagine is in store for us.   We are shaped by what we are waiting for.

Mayan relief
Mayan relief (Photo credit: radiowood2000)

Here we are at the supposed end of the world  The extent to which we believe that the fact that the mayans metaphorically ran out of pages means there is a certain apocalypse in a couple weeks changes how I spend my time and money.

Am I stock piling  supplies in my zombie shelter or do I simply go about life sipping coffee and playing parcheesi with my friends in the parlor?  Am I running around panicky trying to cross everything off my bucket list or am I getting up, getting dressed, and going to work?  Do I measure out my life in coffee spoons? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I cannot help but think of all of the dooms day moaning and fear mongering that has, quite expensively, been trying to shape our decisions in this recent U.S. election.   And it has changed us.

pantry 2
pantry 2 (Photo credit: mullica)

When we listen to the dooms day foretelling it tends to make us stockpile.   We tend to hoard.   For some of us we actually load up on canned goods.  Others of us start pruning our FaceBook friends list.   Still others run out and buy flat screen TVs just to prove we can whatever we want with our money.   We all have ways of hoarding when we imagine doom ahead.

The Christian story in some ways is quite simple.   The world begins and ends in God.   We need not, nor ever really should, get too concerned with how long the calendar will be or who will disappear first and who gets left behind. The world will not end in a bang or a whoosh or puff of smoke.  At least, that is not the point of our story.   The world will end in God.

Our world, God’s world, was born of love and is caught in an unstoppable barrel roll toward that God who first loved us in to being.   God is on the road ahead and that is very good news for all of us.

…unless we would rather be hoarding.

"Castle Romeo" atmospheric nuclear t...
“Castle Romeo” atmospheric nuclear test – March 1954 (Photo credit: The Official CTBTO Photostream)

If we live in fear of  the tragic ending, the big bang theory in reverse, then we are probably wasting a lot of our time hurting ourselves and others over a story that just isn’t, or at least doesn’t have to be, true.

Our scorched-earth fairy tales are nothing more than self fulfilling prophecies that gradually cause us to hand over more and more of our lives  to a life of frenzied over consumption and loneliness.

In Advent I pause to question my own story, the check my own sense of the future.   And yes, it does matter that I question these things with the feast of God’s incarnation looming in the distance.

The future is coming, and it is full of God, God who was willing to come as a baby, most vulnerable.   In a sense God had faith in this world.    And even though that story includes a moment of us killing God.  God continues to come.    Because the world was made by God and begins and ends in infinite love.

Dear friends, what are we waiting for?   What are you waiting for? How am I driving? What story does the life I am living really point to?

God is up ahead.   God made the road, and in fact God has walked this with us.  Let us listen to the ones who first announced God’s presence among us…. Be not afraid.

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