Pastor’s Friday Comments (12.20.19)

I’m writing this Monday afternoon while waiting on a tow truck. I stalled on Peachtree Parkway, managed to coast into a parking lot, and got the not-unexpected news that the driver would be there within two hours. The irony is not lost on me that yesterday, using the lectionary text from the Epistle of James, I preached on patience. Some virtues are freely chosen, others are thrust upon us.

The car radio died with the engine. I don’t want to use my cellphone too much — have to save the battery for messages from the tow company. I have no reading material with me. That used to never be the case, but I’ve come to depend on the fact that I can access almost anything on my phone — if I’m not saving my battery. So I sit in silence.

And I have to say, it’s not half bad. There is an assumed compulsion to our activity and our noise. Every working minute must be consumed with doing something and every moment must be filled with noise. And in this current season any time we are not engaged in other pursuits, we find ourselves in malls or shopping centers, in the relentless quest for the perfect gift, surrounded by “the music of the season,” everything from an electronic version of “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” to Gene Autry singing “Here Comes Santy Claus.”

But for a little while I have a legitimate excuse to withdraw from all that. It’s what we ministers urge on our congregants. Take time out. Meditate. Pray. But in reality we’re probably not much better at it than anyone else.

So we give Advent a slot on the Christian calendar, four weeks to push back against the frenzy and to prepare for the coming of Christ — not just the Christ Child of Christmas, but the grown-up Christ with his unconventional life and his expectation that ours be just as counter-cultural as his.

Unless you spend time thinking about it, unless you spend some time studying what it means to be a follower of Christ, it is likely that you are going to live a thoroughly conventional life. A bit more religious, perhaps, maybe a little more ethical than your non-observant neighbor, but nowhere near the abundant life of service, sacrifice, and love that Jesus offered his disciples.

Now that I think about it, I’ve got some time for meditation now. But I got caught up in writing this column, because it’s on my to-do list and it will feel good to know that I’ve checked it off and it keeps me from wasting time while waiting on the tow truck.

Which, of course, isn’t a waste at all. I don’t believe God causes cars to break down just so we can have some quiet time. I do believe that God can make use of the opportunity. So I’ll stop writing for now and urge you to stop too — whatever it is you were planning to do next — and just let the quiet and the stillness wash over you. You probably need it too.