This morning I was reading the account of the prophecy of the birth of John the Baptist in Luke 1 & the Bible I use has suggestions for spiritual practices in the margin & for this passage it suggested meditating on what it would be like to receive your heart’s desire today. We all have something that would spring to mind & when I thought of what that would be for me my first thought was that it would be overwhelming, a little scary & I’m not sure I’d know what to do with it.
Advent is about waiting for the fulfillment of promises but I’m noticing that the fulfillment of those promises doesn’t look at all like what the expected fulfillment is. I don’t think Zachariah & Elizabeth would have been as stoked about finally having a son if they would have known that he would live in the desert, eat bugs & would eventually be beheaded by a king he accused of adultery. We don’t hear any more about this little family, but I’m wondering how many times Elizabeth re-considered wanting to be a mother so badly. I’m sure she had an idyllic picture in her mind of becoming a family, and the fact that John was “filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born” makes me think he may have been a little special from the beginning.
Israel had waited for a redeemer for a long time & then when Jesus came, they were not so into his definition of what it meant to be God’s people. They had in mind someone more powerful, overt, political & obvious. Jesus came and offered new definitions of love, justice, kingdom, peace. I think we all know how that turned out.
As a society we’ve turned the Christmas season into a time when we get what we want. I ask for this, I get this. We make lists, we drop hints, we buy the damned thing for ourselves if we don’t get it. This is why I’m perfectly fine with the retail juggernaut using the term “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. What we’re doing is selling people what they want. Christmas is about getting what is needed to make the world a reflection of God’s kingdom. What we want is relief of immediate discomfort. What we need is the long view of things, the selfless view, the “us” vs. “me” view.
What I want for Christmas & what I need to become more like Christ are not the same thing. I asked for a dallas Cowboys Snuggie. God has made promises to me that I believe will be fulfilled. I have a tendency to cast the fulfillment of those promises into images that fit my definitions & expectations & God really isn’t about that. It is a discipline to continually tell myself that I must wait patiently for God to fulfill God’s promises in God’s time in God’s way.
I still want that Snuggie, though.