A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Advent: The Wait is Worth It!

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Waiting Story #2

It is said, that all good things are waiting for.
Sometimes, they are worth fighting for,
and sometimes they just surprise you.

The email came on October 11,
my birthday.

It read,
“Happy birthday from an old friend.
I’ll bet I surprised you this morning with a birthday greeting.
There are just some people that I have come to know over the years,
whose birthdays do not escape me.
Perhaps  it’s because I am now living in Pennsylvania,
and perhaps it is simply because I would love to visit with you and catch up
after ALL these years,
if you get a moment, drop me a line.”

After ALL these years…..

That would be 36 years, 3 months, and some change.
The last time I saw her was when I attended her wedding,
the year after graduation from college.

She was one of about ten people
who became very close friends during my undergrad years
at a small college in central PA.

Most of us were music majors,
so we grew out of our adolescence into young adulthood together,
all learning how to live on our own for the first time.

Following graduation, and a parade of weddings that ensued,
I lost touch with all of them.

It was an age without cell phone, internet, and social media.
Most of us relocated and once I moved out of the area,
there was no easy way to find each other.

I emailed her back immediately.
Very soon, we caught up with the 21st century and started texting.
We agreed upon a day in November to meet for lunch.
One very bad cold forced me to cancel that lunch,
and we found a date in early December to meet.

We agreed to meet in the center of a large mall
halfway between our homes.
Upon arrival, I scanned the mall center for a few minutes
and then like a cheesy Hallmark movie,
our eyes met , separated only by Santa’s house and an Orange Julius.

What do you do when you meet a dear friend 36 years down the road?

The first thing you do is laugh and giggle,  A LOT.
Then you hug for a long time while continuing to giggle.

Then, the difficult task began.
Where do start when you need to share 36 years of your life?

We found a place to eat
and enjoyed a four hour lunch.

We talked about college days
all the pranks we pulled,
all the all-nighters studying,
professors who had retired or died,
the friends we had lost touch with.

Then on to our personal lives,
our vocational lives,
our parents who were no longer with us,
our families,
places we had visited,
challenges that we had met,
funny things that had happened to us,
where we were on 9/11,
retirement hopes,
our faith,
things that caused us sorrow,
things that gave us joy,
our hopes for the next years,
politics (only for one minute)
social issues,
our country,
our schools…….

There was more,
but the waiter grew weary of refreshing our drinks,
and our busy lives demanded our return.

But not without the promise of a reunion in the summer.

That is the task of advent…..
waiting for the promised reunion.

We are not guaranteed that we will see the fulfillment of the promise in our earthly lives.
Generations of Jews lived and died with no coming of the Messiah.
Generations of Christians have come and gone with no final coming of Christ.

When whatever you are waiting for, has a fulfillment,
consider yourself blessed.
If your waiting still has unanswered promises,
consider yourself remembered.

God has not forgotten.

This Christmas,
millions around the world now call themselves refugees.
Thousands have died in a genocide not seen since World War II.
A generation that has grown up wrapped in  the internet,
is more content in being spiritual than faithful.

Those with power and money, continue to accumulate,
and those who find themselves as the least, 
remain so.

Except for the internet,
none of the above has changed in 2,000 years.

What should change is our hearts,
Christmas by Christmas,
season by season,
day by day.

The change happens
when our hearts learn to become a Bethlehem stable
that welcomes in the Promised One
rather than remain a Bethlehem inn
that simply has no room for a Savior.

This year as you gaze into the light of your candle,
and sing the verses of Silent Night,
listen, wait for, and expect God to speak,
much like a long lost friend who remembers your birth,
and desires nothing less than 
to know you once again, 
 to love you. 
and to transform your life.

If you get a moment, drop Him a line.
Your wait will be over.

Wishing you and yours, 
the peace, hope, and joy that only Christ can bring.

“And the Word became flesh, and lived among us,
and we beheld His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth.”
                                                        John 1:14

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