Cassandra Farrin has the honor this month of collecting the best of biblioblogging for your reading pleasure. Go see her post at the Westar Institute blog!
…hosted by Jennifer Guo at her eponymous blog.
(Sorry I’ve been late in posting this. Real life and all.)
Weekend Fisher’s post from last night was a refreshing palate cleanser for my soul:
Finally, brothers, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there is anything of virtue/excellence, and if there is any worthy of praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
When I read this, I have often been shamefully dismissive of it. There is a cynical part of my mind which sees it as wishful thinking, or a sort of determined naivety. The more open-minded voice inside me recognizes and acknowledges the value — and then wants credit merely for speaking up against the cynicism, without actually doing what we are here encouraged to do.
She then goes on to reflect on some of these things in her life on which she is led to think. Below is my list, following her example:
- What is true? Gravity.
- What is honorable? Conversations held in confidence.
- What is just? Saying “please” and “thank you” to folks in the service industries.
- What is pure? A choir of children singing “Silent Night.”
- What is lovely? An athlete who’s in the zone.
- What has a good reputation? Hard work.
- Is there anything of virtue? Mothers and fathers who sacrifice so their children can have a better life.
- Is there anything praiseworthy? People who use their gifts in humility.
I was late coming to Advent. The church of my childhood and youth never observed a season of preparation leading to Christmas day. We were left, then, to “get ready for Christmas” the same way secular people did: by overfilling our schedules, spending too much money, bingeing on TV Christmas specials, and eating way too many sweet treats.
Of course, a fair bit of the time, the result was that I didn’t actually prepare for Christmas at all. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the lights, the tinsel, the carols, and all the rest; I loved them—and I still do! The problem is that much of the outward trappings of Christmas don’t always draw us into the depths of its holy mystery. In fact, if we’re not careful, they can even shield us from that mystery.
That’s why I have come to appreciate the discipline of Advent. Advent taps the brakes on our culture’s frenetic Christmas “preparations.” Sometimes, it slams on those brakes with both feet. At it’s most basic, Advent insistently whispers, “Pace yourself; it’s not Christmas yet.”
And when I come more slowly into Christmas, I can better appreciate what that season really means, and how my life should be different because of that meaning.
John the Baptist is a patron saint of Advent waiting and preparation. His ministry in the wilderness got people ready for Jesus to show up. He announced the coming of the kingdom of heaven and called people to repent—just as Jesus did.
And what better way to prepare for Christmas than to get serious about what Jesus said to do?
(This blog post first appeared in an ever so slightly different form at Coracle.)