Advent and Adventure
“The words Advent and Adventure share a common origin.” So read a friend’s Facebook post last week, and yeup, it’s true. Despite a life in church and some high school Latin, that was the first time I’d heard the two words linked. Let’s skip the etymological dissection and history of Advent for now.
(And yes, people normally write about Advent before it happens, but for me, this year has been both more disruptive and more reflective than usual.)
Traditional church services generally include the basics: an advent wreath with four or five advent candles and a family reading familiar verses. Everything is so familiar that I often find my mind wandering as the verses are read. Verses which are intended to make us reflect on the life of Jesus (His First Coming) and look forward to Christ’s return (His Second Coming) – both events being paradigm shifting revelations of God’s love for us individually and collectively. But frankly, we’re more likely to wonder if anyone has watered the poinsettias up front or… a hundred other thoughts.
My current church home, Reno First United Methodist, is traditional with our stained glass, old hymns, standard liturgy, etc… and we are unique in many wonderful ways. Our congregation has a long history of focusing on social justice issues and that concern flavors most of what we do and say, including our Advent readings.
This year’s readings invited us to take a more personal, more direct role in sharing the Good News of the Gospel with those who need it most – which is often more comfortably said than done! We need to – no, we are called to speak for those who have no voice, to connect the hungry and homeless with food and shelter and to simply love others if for no other reason than God created them.
Daring to Submit to the Adventure
And that’s where the “adventure” begins; the word’s definitions include concepts of taking chances and risking loss. There is no adventure in writing a check – although numerous charitable organizations do need your regular financial support to survive and thrive.
The adventure – mentally, emotionally and spiritually – begins anew each day if we ask “Lord, show me opportunities to directly help others and give me the courage to make an effort.” Not really a glamourous prayer so-to-speak. But it opens us up to God’s invitation for each of us to help others experience His love – what I call “Kingdom of God” moments.
Perhaps it’s a smile for someone who is grumpy or inviting a new coworker to join you for lunch. Perhaps it’s simply handing a granola bar or a hamburger to someone who is hungry or just listening to someone. Perhaps it’s volunteering to help a local charity or just cleaning a neighbor’s yard. Perhaps it is… well, that’s for each of us to figure out in our own personal conversations with God! Let him know you’re available and be open to wherever He guides you. And let the adventure begin!
This is Charles White for Just Real Ministries. Take care and know that you are blessed!