Contributed by Rev. Yana J.C. Pagan. This is the second in a series of blog posts for Advent. Scripture readings for the second Sunday of Advent are Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12.
Matthew 3:1-12 is very significant during the Advent season as we reflect on the challenge of growth and change, especially as we wait. I have been thinking about John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus a lot because my family is in the process of moving. We have been at one residence for almost seven years, so moving is logistically and emotionally challenging. If you have moved even just once, you will agree that moving can be stressful and exciting simultaneously.
Although this move is a good change, it still requires much work. While packing, I realized that there are many sections of this home that we have not touched since we first entered. I do not want to take things that we have not touched in so long into a new residence, because we may not actually need them. Moving can be a great opportunity to purge from things that hold us down or that we have held on to for too long. I considered simply dumping my dresser drawers into suitcases. That would work momentarily, but unpacking would be a headache. Being between two places during this final weekend of packing makes me think of Advent. I hate waiting! It causes me to think too much. Upon further reflection, it is a time of knowing something is blooming (as in the passage of Isaiah), but not yet developed.
This season in the church calendar actually makes me a bit antsy for Resurrection Sunday. I see Advent as a time of preparing the way for something; as Christians, we know what is coming next, but not really. The idea that things must change and can no longer be the same is the tension to which I believe John the Baptist was speaking. He lived with the understanding that something greater was at hand and that we needed to prepare ourselves for what was coming. That is the tension I have been living in with the move. I am planning and expecting, but nothing has happened. From John the Baptist’s perspective, it is the baptismal waters that help to prepare a person’s heart for what was coming. My family will transport our furniture, but we understand that the new layout will be totally different.
As we walk into this season of Advent, we need to inwardly and outwardly ask ourselves, what is the tension in which we should be living? We all make the mistake of thinking that we need to be comfortable and satisfied with the way things are, but I dare to say that we should want more. We need to prepare the way for Christ. My family needs to live in the tension of knowing that great things are yet to come while we are still living in the mess of boxes, tape, and paper. So, we take that reality down with us to the waters. I hope that when we come up, we would be transformed, renewed by the water of life, daily; simultaneously rejoicing and grieving as we live in the reality of the now and not yet.
Prayer: God of the now and the not yet, mold our hearts during this time of preparation. Help us to know what needs to be left behind and what needs to be taken on as we move forward in our walk of faith. Transform and renew us each individually, and as a people. In the name of the coming son, we pray. Amen.