Today I want to welcome my son, Daniel Geisen. He joined me last year during the Advent season and has so many great insights to share about this time of year, I invited him back again. He and his wife are currently living with me as they both seek what the next step is in God’s plan. Daniel loves to write and is seeking writing and teaching opportunities. He would welcome your insight and comments.

 

Growing up, my family attended a traditional church, one that took pride in remembering the story of Advent and recalling the hope it brings. It was also a church that loved its candles. Sure, the candles created a wonder-filled atmosphere, but I was terrified of the inevitable doom of the wax that trickled down the candle towards my arm (I’m still bothered by that phenomenon today). These candles represented the call to remain vigilant, which was no problem for the guy who didn’t want the candle to burn him. All joking aside, this call to vigilance was noble and founded on reading the Christmas story as it was presented in the Gospels—the biographies of the one we call Lord. Thus, my experience each year at this time has been to read and remember the hope that arrives with Jesus. As eager and perhaps desperate as we might be to try and absorb information about hope, maybe the Advent narrative is eager not to merely be read and to transfer information regarding hope, but it might just be eager to read us instead. If the Advent story can read us, what would it say?

It would look at our present political climate and say, “Believe it or not, I get it.” The Advent tale features a Christ who enters the political fray of tension between the various expressions of Judaism and the Romans. This very narrative might just be leaping with anticipation to show us in our own political worries and fears that the same Jesus who lived in chaos of the first century is the Lord of the cosmos this very hour.

Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:7

The Advent story would also read the novels of our despair and say, “Awake, O Sleeper, hope has arrived.” Many of us might be facing disappointment and confusion these days. My wife and I are certainly in that boat. We sought an opportunity in ministry recently that didn’t end up working out. It was shocking, it yielded many tears, and it left us asking where we can serve in God’s kingdom. Through all of this, we truly resonated with what the story of Christmas might need to tell us. Instead of us attempting to dissect the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke, we discovered that we were the ones who needed to be under the microscope. Upon coming back to the Christmas story with that disposition of being read rather than simply obtaining information, it became clear once more that there is real hope because of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For most of us, the Bible is so familiar it’s become part of the furniture, an object to tidy from the table when it’s time for dinner and to bring out when it’s time to work. But perhaps it’s not an object in our world. Perhaps we’re creatures in its. ~Mandy Smith, The Vulnerable Pastor

You see, I thoroughly enjoy studying Scripture. To suggest that our goal might be to allow Scripture—especially the Advent narrative—to read us is strange, to say the least. In the 21st century Western hemisphere, we have been given volumes of resources to excavate spiritual truths. We’ve received instruments to discover masses of life applications from the Bible. We can utilize all of these wonderful items to essentially operate on Scripture, and yet we can still find ourselves so distant from this captivating story. Yes, there is a place (and a very important place, I might add) for intentional study and research. But there is also a need for us to allow Scripture to read us—in our individual struggles and our communal lament. In doing this, we allow Scripture to speak to us and we just might have ears to hear, “There is hope yet.” Or, in the words of the prophet Isaiah anticipating a glorious day, “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

To find out more about Mandy Smith’s book, The Vulnerable Pastor, click on the link below.

Thank you all for joining me here today!


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