Preparing for Advent

Porter’s Reflection 11-30-17

Sunday we begin the season of Advent: a holy time of waiting and of expectation. A season of longing for new birth in us and in our world.  As much as I’d like to make a list of books I want to read or even that BMW I keep dreaming about, my better angel tells me to lift my gaze and remember that this is the season of hope; this is the season for yearning for the world that should be and not merely the one that could be.

            As I read the newspapers and think about our national discourse and the eroding of our concern for the common good, I found myself thinking of Paul’s list of the fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. Remember your Galatians?

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,  envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.      By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control….If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

Yes, we need to be civically engaged and yes we need to hold our leaders responsible.  As tempting as it is to look away from what is happening in Washington, DC, it’s an illusion to think that the “jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions” there don’t affect us where we are.  We all swim in the same sea.

No. The way to new birth is by moving away from where we are by taking a step towards where we are called to be. If we want this world and especially this nation to be a place of peace and kindness and generosity and gentleness and self-control, then Advent is the season in which to move towards those. 

I think Advent is less about merely waiting and more about moving our feet to Bethlehem where everyone gets reborn.  It doesn’t’ mean we don’t hold politicians accountable, but it does mean we have a larger agenda: to change the world by changing ourselves. After all, the One who changed the world forever was born in nowhere with only a few stragglers around.

So my intention is to stay away from the Washington madness and the mall madness and instead see if there can be one act each day that will align me to who I think God is calling me to be.