December 1, 2019
We spent the weekend with Jon-Mical and Jakson, our grandsons. Jon-Mical is 11, almost 12 and in that awkward place between the silliness of a child and the self-imposed seriousness of a young man. Jakson, on the other hand, at 8, is right in the middle of the joyous delight and discovery of life that only children really know, or at least if we know, we have forgotten. He recites his multiplication tables with abandon, as if no one in the history of mankind has ever known what 9 times 9 equals. He describes the difference between cumulus and stratus clouds like he, and he alone, invented the science of meteorology. Everything, every day, is a new adventure, a fresh start, an exploration waiting to happen. It made me think of how Jesus wants us to approach faith in the same way. He said, in Matthew 18:3, “Unless you change and become like a little child, you will not see the Kingdom of Heaven.” Does he mean that in order to be saved you have to forget all you have learned as an adult and act childish? (If that is true I know a lot of “saved” people.) I think more than that, Jesus is saying there is so much delight and discovery in following Him that we miss a lot unless we open our eyes bright like a little kid finding out all of the old wisdom for the very first time.
Today is the first day of Advent and it is precisely that. At your church today you might light a candle or read a liturgy. You might sing the first Christmas hymn of the season, or at least see the first pointsettia. You might be tempted to see all of this with old eyes. “Oh brother, let’s get this over with so we can get on to the real worship.” But I challenge you to see it like Jakson sees it, like you are discovering something that no one on the history of the world has known before. That is what Advent is. It is anticipating the coming of Jesus with a fresh new perspective, with childlike giddiness, and finding delight in the discovery. Psalm 98 begins, “Sing a NEW song to the Lord because He has done miracles.” I challenge you to light the Advent candle like you are the first person that has ever done such a thing, to hear the Advent reading with awe and amazement, like you have never, ever heard this story before. And when we do….when we do…. We will see things in the Kingdom of Heaven that before had slipped right by us, without our noticing.
T.S. Elliott said, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first time.” Today, begin exploring the coming of Jesus again. Explore it with amazement, with wonder, with the excitement of a kid looking ahead to Christmas. Today, the first Sunday of Advent, do what we have been doing for at least 1500 years but do it like it has never been done before. I believe you will see Kingdom things that would otherwise have been undiscovered. And, you might see Jesus come into your heart today again, for the first time.