The ordinary becoming extra-ordinary
Midweek Advent Worship Reflection, by Pastor Will Rose
(Can you hum this tune in your head?) Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff
Like bingle balls, and who-foo fluff. Trim up the town with goo-who gums and bizil-bix and…
Maybe you have seen the Grinch and you know how it goes.
Or how about this one…
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go…
Or this one…
Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la… (now that song is in your head!!!)
This is a season of decorating.
Lights and bows, holly and garland, tacky Christmas sweaters… unfortunately, sometimes glitter.
Growing up my dad did not like to decorate the house for Christmas, sure we did the tree and a few wreathes but no lights on the outside of the house, BUT he did drive us around to see the houses that went all out on lights, and we loved it, it became one of our family traditions, hunting houses with awesome lights.
It is a season of turning the ordinary and routine into something bright, to catch your eye, to stand out, to help you feel festive.
With our liturgical seasons, within our churches and in our homes, the hope is that these lights and decorations draw us into the light of Christ, that they will enlighten and shine on those hidden longings of our own lives and in our world and that they will draw us into the mystery of God.
It is a season to dress up and decorate.
And I love it, everything except the glitter, (but oh well) tis the season.
And so I connect with this proclamation from Isaiah that says,
“For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Advent is a time to get ready for God.
To decorate the ordinary to get ready for an extra-ordinary God who promises to come among us.
I also believe Advent is a great time to ask and reflect how we dress things up, and why we do it.
And not just all the stuff on the outside of our lives but also on the inside… our hearts, our souls, our faith.
Our confession each Sunday during Advent has us praying this prayer, “Grant us wisdom to welcome your light and to seek the things that will endure until Christ comes again in glory.”
What is it that endures?
What is it that truly lasts?
What is it that we want to present to God when God does show up?
Isaiah gives us a clue of what’s important.
In fact this was the text Jesus uses for his first sermon in Luke.
(it also gets him kicked out of his hometown!)
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me…
To bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners.
To comfort all who mourn…
To build up the ancient ruins…
To raise up the former devastations…
To repair the ruined cities…”
Again we see this vision of a “holy reversal” of things in the world, the turning of things upside down and inside out.
Perhaps this is similar to the decorating and the transformation of the ordinary into something extra-ordinary.
And this is great to do for our homes, and buildings, our sweaters and greeting cards, but let us not forget how we express, present, and practice our faith.
As we wait for and encounter Emmanuel, the long awaited Christ, God with us, let us ask ourselves,
How do we adorn our faith?
What does it look like to others?
In the end, what will endure?
For all the newcomers who join us for worship over the holidays, what does our faith look like and sound like?
How do we express the good news of God’s love and grace to those hungry to experience it?
Again Isaiah proclaims,
“For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, with my WHOLE being. For God has clothed me with garments of salvation.”
Almost every morning after I drop the girls off at school I swing by this one convenient store to pick up a coffee or Diet Dew. It’s the same guy behind the counter, owner/manager from India. This week he stepped out of the casual small talk routine to ask me if I “work around here.” I shared I am the Lutheran Pastor of the Lutheran Church right down the road. He says he passes the church all the time, he shares he is from India and he’s Catholic.
Then he asks me, “so do Lutheran’s believe in Jesus?”
I fought off the temptation to say “some of us do” and I give him the 30 second version of what Lutheran’s believe and our similarities with Catholicism. We bonded over our shared faith and wished each other a Merry Christmas.
As we head into the big show of Christmas Eve I was reminded once again that as self-important and well known we think we are there are some who have no clue who we are or what we believe.
Even with all the “press” of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this guy had no clue who Lutherans were.
As we wind down Advent and head into the good news and mystery of Christmas.
Pay attention and be open to the conversations you have.
Our extra-ordinary God shows up in ordinary and humble ways.
Pay attention and be intentional in how you express and dress your faith and hospitality.
For some we encounter, we may be their only interaction with our denominational tradition, or more importantly the Christian faith.
Go preach the gospel, this is not reserved for the pastor in the pulpit in front of 100’s of people, our Christian witness happens in the small out of routine conversations as well.