Thursday, December 07, 2006

Remembrance & Surprise

"offering" photo by bill hughlett

I don’t recall ever being so focused on or interested in the season or spirit of Advent as I have been this year. The word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” For me, it also feels like a time of remembrance. A remembering of story—the story of my personal life as well as remembrance of the greatest story ever told—the coming of Christ, the birth of a King in a manger and the resurrection of a man from the dead.

The advent season is also one filled with surprise. I cannot help but imagine the surprise (more likely shock) of a young Mary when the angel told her she would give birth to a Savior. Fast forward thirty or so years and witness the surprise of the women who found the tomb empty; their friend and king gone.

We live with a God of surprise. Advent is filled with both surprise and anticipation. These are the themes for me this year as I sit in the darkness and wait. Part of me knows exactly for what I am waiting. I am waiting expectantly for the coming of the Lord and the celebration of his birth. More present in my mind, however, is the anticipation for the coming surprise. What will happen next in my life? From where will the next surprise come? How and when will I leave this darkness?

It is important for me to remember I have been here before—in the darkness—in this time of waiting and in this season of Advent. I will do my best to wait patiently but I am also filled with an excited anticipation—like a child waiting to open the first gift on Christmas morning. While I know the greatest gift was given with the birth of a small child centuries ago, I am still called to remember that each day is a new gift waiting to be unwrapped. Sometimes it feels like a cruel joke because the layers of wrapping paper are so many that I feel it will take forever to get to the present. Still, I will wait and I will pray to see each layer as a gift in itself with something to offer.

Remembrance and the willingness to be surprised are two of the greatest gifts we can offer ourselves each day. Advent is a time of waiting in the dark—waiting for the next surprise. My goal is to appreciate the darkness and remember it allows the light of surprise to shine even brighter.

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