Advent, we meet again.
Normally I would welcome you in, but I’m in a weird spot right now. I’ve embraced the darkness and anticipation of your 24 days the past few years and I was so excited to engage this year, considering that darkness seems to be the theme of this long and grueling 2020. You would think with everything that has happened and everything that is going on that Advent would be front and center in my mind, but alas, that is not the case.
I’m not ready for you yet.
My heart has not been in the mood for this. Jesus, Church, and theology used to be my driving force, but those are the last things I want to think about now. I honestly don’t have much else on my mind that could occupy that space, but I just don’t want to engage right now.
The Church has hurt me this year. In fact, I noticed that the Church has been hurting me for a long time, I just didn’t want to look her in the eye. I thought we could work through our differences if we just tried hard enough and respected each other enough, but my convictions have become too strong and the Church has become too apathetic. I have a passion and a drive, but I’ve felt shunned by many leaders in the Church. My convictions have been ignored and explained away. Those who were supposed to lead me ended up tossing me aside when my voice got too loud and things got too uncertain. Now I don’t have anger towards the entire Church – I honestly love dearly most of my siblings in Christ – but the entire way we perform “Church” has gotten old and stale. The object of our worship is just as worthy as always, but the content of worship has become trash.
Which brings me to Jesus. Where is he at in all this? Where is the Holy Spirit? Because I feel beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are moving in my life, but aren’t they supposed to be moving in Church? And as far as I can tell, the Church (at least the American Evangelical one) and I are moving in very different directions. So am I completely in the wrong here? Have I been doing this Christian thing all wrong the past few years? Is it really as simple as just reading my Bible and praying? If it really is that simple… what if I don’t want that life at all? Maybe this will all get better if I just cracked open my Bible to Isaiah and started reading and, oh look… another passage about how God will condemn those who oppress the powerless…. and another passage on the dangers of wealth… oh, and there’s one about mistreating the immigrant in our midst. What is this solving again? It’s just making me more and more upset with the Church and even more impatient with Jesus. Seriously, where is he as all of this is happening? Where is he as his people worship a country that bombs children, glorfies murder, and separates parents from their kids because of their laws? Where is he as a deadly virus leaves more and more people in debt, without jobs or a place to stay, and continues killing hundreds of thousands of people while those in power do absolutely nothing? Is he just going to let this go on? Where is he?
On top of all this, I’m wrestling with my own inner demons. This time always brings to mind those people in my life I had either cast out or let walk away. The memories haunt me, but my desire to erase them from my consciousness is drowned out by my longing to see them again. I want redemption. I want healing. But I don’t want to deal with them! I don’t want to open a door just to have it slammed in my face again.
But here’s the thing…. My life is great! It’s as good as it has ever been. I’m free from the stress and anger of an old job and free from the monotony of another. I actually have a work environment I enjoy and feel like I can be my full self in. I feel like I have a chance to explore talents I didn’t know I had before. My wife is incredible. She has been a rock and a never-ending support as we have navigated this crazy season together. My daughter is growing so much and I love her with all my heart. My siblings have been there for me on a moment’s notice and my in-laws have been a joy to be around. To tell the truth, my head is clearer than it has been in years.
Which means that these thoughts, the ones I’ve laid out for you today, my dear friend Advent, are the ones coming when I’m finally thinking straight. Even as the answers are not clear and the situation is cloudy, I know that my questions are on point. I know that these are the correct thoughts. This is why I’m not ready for you. I want to embrace the darkness and live in the anticipation, but it is the mystery that bothers me. I want answers and direction, but with you it is a journey that never quite goes the way I was expecting. I don’t want anymore games, I want the solution. I need the destination.
How many more times are we going to have to do this before Jesus decides it’s time to come back? How many more people are going to die? How many more families will have to suffer loss? How many more souls need to get crushed, bank accounts need to be emptied, and children need to be without food before this journey ends and God’s new kingdom begins? How many more times will I need to think about those I’ve hurt and those who have hurt me and realize I won’t get to mend those relationships in this old world? How many more times can I be betrayed by those I trusted? And how many more times am I going to have to fail at my job as Image of God before the Image himself returns?
I’m so tired of waiting.
Go away, Advent. I’m not ready for you yet.
Advent, we meet again.