Tuesday, Dec. 6:
]AM Psalm 26, 28; PM Psalm 36, 39;
Amos 7:10-17; Rev. 1:9-16; Matt. 22:34-46
Last year my husband, Ehsan, and I visited dear friends, our former pastor
(who had recently lost his wife) and his daughter. When we lived close to
them, we enjoyed many warm dinners in their home and many sweet times of
fellowship and worship. It amazed me how quickly the years apart fell away in
the closeness and loving friendship we experienced during our visit together.
We shared joys and sorrows, ate together and prayed together. Before leaving we all agreed that they should come visit us soon in our home here in Chapel Hill. After leaving, the two of us shared together how remarkably present Jesus had been in our time together. Everything we discussed came back, and despite the tears of mourning we continued to shed for our pastor’s wife and for Ehsan’s mother, we left encouraged and hopeful.
The Advent season began not long after we had returned home from this visit. I have always been puzzled by the idea of hoping and waiting during Advent. We wait for the birth of Christ, which has already happened; in a sense we are re-enacting the waiting of the people of God, and perhaps revisiting the ways in which we both were and are in need of the Messiah.
We await the second coming, the coming again, of Jesus. I’ve always felt that what this second type of waiting demanded of me was complex and sometimes contradictory: a longing to see his face—a hope for the consummation of our relationship with Jesus—coupled with a healthy fear of judgment. The first implies that I am ready to see him, the second that I might not be.
After our visit with our friends, I began almost immediately to anticipate their visit to us. I knew that when they came to our house, they would bring the same warmth, love and friendship we had known the moment we stepped into theirs. I can honestly say I longed to see them again. But I also became aware of a question: Is my house characterized by the same Christ-centered fellowship and hospitality that I experienced with these friends? Do friends come away from our house with the sense of having been together at the feet of Jesus?
The longing I felt to see them again, the confidence of their love for us, is like the longing we feel to see the face of Jesus at his second Advent. The way in which their coming will bring the truth to bear, will bring the light of Christ to the reality of the way I have been living my life, is like the judgment we await at the second coming.
The idea of our dear friends’ coming leads me to a sober self-reflection. But in the end, I know their arrival will be full of love and joy. And this is why there is no dread in my anticipation of it, only hope.
(Today’s exercise: Consider one way in this season of Advent that you might offer hospitality to others. What is one thing that you could do to bless a friend or stranger with hospitality?)