I have never stood guard against a group of people aiming to do me, my family, or my country harm. I’ve never stood on the 38th Parallel of the Korean Peninsula, or on a watchtower in the Kandahar base in Afghanistan, or on a Coast Guard ship deck outside of Miami. I don’t know what it’s like to spend hours and hours, days upon days watching for something that may or may not come, but if it comes is potentially a grave threat.
I do know what it’s like to spend 5 minutes a few mornings each week waiting for the school bus to arrive. Depending on how our morning is going, the feeling is different. If I’m not feeling pressed to handle something (and it’s not too cold), standing and chatting as my son and I look up the street for the bus to come is a nice start to the day. When there are too many demands piling up or the weather isn’t great, the bus can seem interminably slow. Too often, I go handle “one more thing before the bus gets here,” only to return to the door as the bus pulls away, another morning chat with Mac missed because of the distractions of busyness.
We should continue to pray for the safety and focus of those who stand in dangerous places watching for dangerous foes. We should also pray for our own refocus on what matters. I can put wet clothes in the dryer after the bus leaves as well as before it does. There will come a time when I can’t stand by my child for a chat before school.
We start Advent this Sunday. It’s our annual reminder that we have choices to make and those choices will determine if we’re prepared for Jesus’ coming or not. Thankfully, he is not our foe and comes as our redemption, but we’re best prepared to celebrate his arrival if we refocus on what matters and aren’t distracted by what doesn’t. We won’t get it all right, all the time, but this is a good time to reflect on the choices before us and which choices will help us know Jesus better today and whenever he decides to return. Sunday morning’s scripture (Luke 21:25-36) will help us reflect on that.
If you’re looking for a calming service in an otherwise hectic season, I invite you to join us at Central Sunday evening at 5 p.m. for the Service of the Longest Night. This is a meaningful service that is a gift to those of us who want something reflective at this time of year and is a gift to those who deserve space for a comforting service with the grief and challenges they are facing. It is worth your time. I hope you’ll give yourself that gift.
See you Sunday.