Longing for Presence
Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9 (NRSV)
Thanksgiving has come and gone. The insane quest for just the right gifts for your loved ones has likely commenced. The decorating of the homes has begun. Our household even managed to get a tree up already!
For many, Christmas is "the most wonderful time of the year." What makes it so special?
There are parties to attend and lots of goodies to eat. There is Christmas music on the radio and in the stores. There is the annual debate over whether one should say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays". There are church cantatas and candle lighting. There are school programs and specials on television.
There are cards to write and cookies to bake; gifts to wrap and family to see.
We spend extra time thinking about others - even if finding the right gift is frustrating because they really have everything they need. But even if buying the right present is difficult, we are still moved in some way in our generosity toward others.
For some, the rush is too much. The hustle and bustle has taken away the special feelings we may have once cherished. Within the Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is trying to capture that Christmas spirit that seems to be eluding him because of all the commercialization. Instead of buying the shiny aluminum tree for the Christmas pageant, he buys the sickly looking tree that looks like it needs some love.
This compassionate twist is what makes the story enduring.
It reminds us in some way of the Gospel story. Jesus is vulnerable as a baby - born in a manger rather than in opulence. God's vulnerability is contrasted to the might of Rome in that day. And yet, the one who has ears to hear recognizes which is ultimately more powerful.
This Advent, we will be exploring our "Longing for God" as we explore the prophetic readings from the lectionary texts. As we reflect on Isaiah's passage today, we can see the people longing for God's presence. As Advent begins, we remember that this is an important part of our preparation for Christmas.