The myth of the past
Looking forward rather than backward is “advent”, It is looking for what is coming, anticipating arrival- not retracing our steps! As a kid I celebrated the expectant coming of Christ with eager anticipation (well, at least for the gifts that accompanied the arrival). And yet He had already come some 2000 years ago! We retrace our steps every Christmas as we replay the arrival of Jesus! We know the outcome – Emmanuel/God with us – but we what we do along this journey can be new every year. We pray, reflect, and rejoice during Advent, and each Advent season can be an entirely new and newly refreshing experience. We still “get ready” for Christmas. We prepare. We have traditions and things we do to make the celebration new!
Jesus already came! He is always with us! Fabulous realities! Something about pondering this season each year pushes back the mundane busynesss of life and pushes us to let go of so many petty issues because something remarkable, healthy, and loving is about to happen. The opportunity to once again be refreshed and have hope renewed is worth the wait! We live continually in expectant waiting, don’t we?! We are looking joyfully backward as we celebrate again that God showed up with a promise to redeem the world bringing the gift of hope, forgiveness and grace. We still celebrate the expectant Mary as a reminder of how spectacular the first advent really was.
Advent looks forward. Unfortunately, I often try to see where I have been. I think about the things I have left undone. Paul warns against doing this in Phil. 3: 13-14 (my favorite passage)
I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The future seems distant while the past seems so close. A linear historical timeline makes the past feel closer than a week from now because it is familiar and it is experienced. It really exists with all its memories and dirty laundry (literally and figuratively). There is a tension that I often deny! Today, I want to be more like Joseph and Mary who, as they began their slow walk to Bethlehem were filled with curiosity, anxiety and probably much fear, yet with a longing to find the truth at the end of the journey. Getting ready for a journey requires preparation, planning and more than just the excitement of what is coming. It means packing, filling the car with gas, reading the map, gathering snacks, etc. It is setting a route yet knowing that unexpected vistas and events will come along the road. I want to pray, reflect and wait with hope for the next advent when God with us becomes a glorious reality of Us with Him forever in heaven. Maranatha.
Today marks a new year with all its potential and promise. Really it is no different from any other new day but the milestones like a new year on a calendar are significant nonetheless. Similarly, yesterday is actually further away than tomorrow, whether or not it feels that way. It is not something to anticipate, It is not coming. It is over. For Mary the first advent was unknown. For us the next advent is. May I learn to lean in as I eagerly anticipate it and prepare for it. The past may have shaped what today looks like but like CS Lewis said,
“You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
Welcome 2023 – I am looking forward to what is coming…. My prayer is that I would enjoy the scenery along the way and walk with intentionality and expectant hope for the end of the journey.
Happy New Year!