Somebody Make it Stop! Finding Advent as the RESET Button for Life

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SOMEBODY MAKE IT STOP!NotYetChristmas Front CVR SM copy

I want to share with you a phenomenon that describes my life much of the time.

It goes by many names. Some call it the “Spinning Wheel of Death.” Others refer to it as the “Beach Ball of Doom.” It is more benignly called the “Spinning Pin Wheel” or the “Spinning Wait Cursor.” You know what I’m talking about—at least you Mac people do. It’s that blasted little rainbow colored ball that lets you know your computer is hopelessly constipated. You PC people see a rotating hour glass when this happens on your computer.

The little Marble of Doom can mean a lot of things but they all mean the same thing. It means there’s too much going on in the computer, too many applications running at the same time, not enough memory, an over-full hard drive, or all of the above.

It happens to me all the time these days. It’s usually a sign I haven’t powered my computer down and re-booted in weeks or even months. I just keep going and going and going. The other day I decided to count up all the stuff I had running. It came to 11 different applications running on four different desktops. There was Mailplane and iMessage and iTunes and Keynote and Evernote and Preview and Word and Safari and Firefox and more. Within the Microsoft Word app alone I had nineteen documents open.

That little Frisbee from Hell was about to explode. Thank God for the “Force Quit” feature. I managed to close enough applications to get the “Shut Down” command to finally work. I let it “cool” for a few minutes and then powered back up. All was well.

If I’m honest, I must admit my life gets into the same condition all too often. You get the analogy. If only there were a “Force Quit” function and a “ReStart” command.

Finding the Reset Button for Life

Good news. We have a reset option! It’s called Advent. Every year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, usually just before the start of December, a sacred season of prime time opens up for the followers of Jesus to hit the “Reset” button on life. It’s a coveted chance to reorient our lives around ultimate things.

I’m not talking about opting out of all the commercial craziness the culture around us calls Christmas. That’s where most of us live. Enjoy a trip to the mall. Stand in line for hours to see Santa. String ten thousand lights across your front yard. Eat some toasty chestnuts, whatever those are.

In the midst of all this, I’m encouraging you to push the reset button on your soul; to welcome the Holy Spirit to reboot your tired human spirit. In the midst of all the chaotic run-up to Christmas, let’s do Advent.

As the year 2014 comes to a frenetic close all around us, a new year will actually begin just under the surface of things. It’s a new year in the Kingdom of “On Earth as it is in Heaven.” Advent opens up that secret calendar and leads us in the quiet practices of preparing the way for the Lord.

I want to tell you something about Advent that may surprise you. It’s not first and foremost about Christmas. Sure, we will wind up in Bethlehem, but the journey there will not exactly pass through snow village. Here’s the surprising thing. Advent begins by resetting our attention to the Second Coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ; the end of all things broken and the fullness of all things New.

Long before Stephen Covey’s “Habit #1: Begin with the End in Mind,” the people of God began the year with the clarion call of Advent to lift our eyes to the horizons of eternity.

From Apocalyptic Anxiety to the Glorious New Creation

We need to recapture a rich and robust vision of what theologians and bible scholars call “The Eschaton.” We must leave behind all the apocalyptic anxiety we aassociate with the end of the world. Beginning with the end in mind means learning to imagine in vivid detail the arrival of the Son of God on the scene of human suffering and completely and utterly reversing the curse of sin and death.

It sounds like the last drop of chemotherapy to ever drip. It looks like the last nail in the coffin of those who steal childhood from children by selling them into slavery. It sounds like the gleeful shouts of those children as they are handed their all access non expiring pass to a better than Disney World life they had no capacity to imagine. It smells like an endless Whole Foods buffet being set before the famished. It looks like the poor coming out of Nordstroms instead of Good Will. It looks like jihadists joining the Red Cross.

The reboot begins with the washing away of our cynicism and the lifting of our hearts to the One who is and who was and who is to come; the God who is making all things new. It begins again with the end in mind, believing in a future too good to be true and beginning to long for it in a way that fosters a holy discontent with the status quo; a renewed Holy Spirit energy that must begin preparing the way now.

When the Interruption Has Become the Pattern

You see, the season of Advent was meant to interrupt the pattern. The challenge is that all these centuries later, the interruption has become the pattern.

This means it will take a little more thoughtful preparation to make Advent more than another cycle of religious motions.

We’ve already talked about how the season of Advent as a golden opportunity to hit the reset button on life, the first step being to begin with the end in mind. John Lennon told us to imagine there’s no heaven. Jesus taught us to imagine the full splendor of Heaven breaking in on Earth.

The Big Question Advent Asks

And that brings us to this simple question: Given the kind of world God is refashioning, what kind of people does He want us to become?

So many people spend so much of their lives becoming someone other than who God imagined them to be when He created them in the first place.

Advent is the annual invitation to re-engage the Creator’s intent for your life; to enter afresh the process of becoming authentic again. Not religious or stuffy or prudish or boring, but holy. Holy — as in gloriously alive, super charged with the power of love. Holy — as in effortlessly exuding the irresistible goodness of God.

Isn’t that outstanding? In a culture of stress and consumerism, we can become a different kind of people and live with a different kind of intention. We can have a peace in the midst of chaos. As we stand in line at the mall, we can see our fellow shoppers through a totally different lens. And we can carry that different lens with us into 2015 — and on into the rest of our year and the rest of our lives.

It’s a challenge, to be sure. “On earth as it is in heaven” definitely takes some work, but it starts with recognizing the pattern of our lives and believing that God has something much, much bigger in mind.

An Invitation and Special Offer

If you’re ready to jump off the hamster wheel and rekindle the pursuit of Holy Love, join me in starting with Advent. In the first 25 days of December, I’m taking “Happy Holidays” to “Happy Holy Days” — and I’ve put together a little book to guide the journey. It’s called, as you may know by now, Not Yet Christmas: It’s Time for Advent. Each day features (in Daily Text style) a scripture verse, my short reflection, and a poem-prayer composed by a member of our tribe of gifted Christian poets.

As an early Christmas gift I’d be delighted to give you a good deal on the book. Enter the Discount Code SAVEADVENT for 25% off.

Finally, I’d love it if you would consider subscribing to the Seedbed Daily Text, the daily post I write for a growing community of the Seedbed Tribe. Subscribe here.

Order Not Yet Christmas: It’s Time for Advent from our store.

Visit our Worship Design Collective for more resources like this one.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Years ago, when my children were small, I was prompted to construct an advent wreath and make it a priority during the 4 Sundays of Advent. Amazingly enough, it became a priority to my family and a close friend who spent a fair amount of time with us. What I did not realize was how the wreath would shift the focus of Christmas morning. Surprisingly enough, despite my expectation that I would have to fight my children to go through the ritual on Christmas morning because of their excitement about all the presents, the wreath became a priority for them because they had spent 4 weeks arguing about who would light the large white candle in the center of the wreath. Although we all woke up on Christmas morning with the anticipation of gathering around the Christmas tree, the practice of the Advent wreath added a whole other dimension. It would not be Christmas without it; right alongside the stockings and the pile of presents under the Christmas tree. Just because of the timing of how we do things, the wreath appears at least a week before the tree or any other decorations and stays on our dining table until Epiphany. Each time we sit down to eat we light the appropriate candles. It has become our touchstone of what Christmas is really about.

  2. You said ” Advent opens up that secret calendar and leads us in the quiet practices of preparing the way for the Lord.. To me this is self explanatory, but really I know that thid is right and true. you talk about beginning with the end in mind…it says here the end was Jesus death in the cross, which I believe is true but how do you really know what your end is? Is this resembling an idea of our own days that are numbered here? What is the true purpose and end? Is there another earth and heaven that well go to? So we live forever in eternity… If I could know the glorious nature I’d definitely abide more often…like you said its going to take work!! Thanks for this article it helped my family and gave me hope for Advent. Your seed

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