Monday, December 1, 2008

U-Turns, You-Turns, & I-Turns

I drove into our parking lot this morning. There was still snow on the ground from last night. I noticed my vehicle was the second one to make tracks today. The first vehicle hadn't stayed, however. It simply drove into the lot, turned around, and left.

That's not uncommon for us. Because our building is located a short distance from an exit off of I-94, many people use our lot as a turn around.

That may bother some of our congregants, but I haven't heard any. And I kind of like the symbolism.

A place where people can turn their lives around and begin to head in a new direction.

Isn't that one picture of what The Church at its best is meant to be? I think so.

And this is the season for turnarounds. I know many in our culture will look for making changes January 1 with New Year's Resolutions. And that's great.

But on the Christian calendar we are in a time period called Advent. Advent means "a coming or arrival" (Webster's Concise Dictionary).

Advent is the season when we:

1. Remember God in Christ Jesus coming to earth as a little, helpless Baby

2. Anticipate God showing up into our regular, everyday lives

3. Anticipate Christ's return to earth again at the consummation of all things

Long before Jesus was born, the Prophet Isaiah called the people to, "Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming! Make a straight road for him!" (Isaiah 40:3 NLT)

Isaiah was trying to get people ready for an Advent.

Advent says that while God's arrival into our lives is a gift, there are preparations for us to make.

Advent says that while God is the main character, we have a part to play prior to God's arrival.

One way we play our part is making U-turns.

Or maybe a You-turn.

Of course, it is always easier to see where other people need to turn around, isn't it?

"You can a better parent."

"You should be a more supportive wife."

"You could be a more attentive husband."

"You ought to be a better friend."

But I don't think Advent is about correcting others. Our fixation upon others' faults is what Jesus refers to when he mentions getting the plank out of my own eye before I try to help you get the speck out of yours. Ouch.

No, advent is probably more about I-Turns. (To my knowledge, Apple has not coined the phrase yet. But if they do, would you be my witness that we thought of it first?)

Advent gives me a chance to ask, "What could I do to prepare for God's coming into my life?"


"What might my life look like if God really would show up in a brand new way?"

Think of the choices we have of things we could do to prepare:

- I could read the Christmas story

- I could find music or art that turns my attention to God's activity in the world

- I could seek out ways to help others who are in need

- I could attend a Christmas Eve service with candles or a Children's Pageant

- I could spend a few minutes in silent prayer and meditation

- I could set aside 10 minutes everyday between now and Christmas to anticipate God's arrival into my life and the lives of those I love

I don't want to simply remember Christmases past. I want to anticipate God's coming into our world today and participate in fresh, new things that might be in store for me if I'm simply fully present and open to them.

How 'bout you?

Grace & peace

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