December 2, 2008

Lectionary Leanings

The second installment of my articles for the Circuit Rider:

December 7
Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13,
II Peter 3:8-15a, Mark 1:1-8
Anticipation is not an emotion that we experience too often these days. We live in a “have it your way, fast” kind of culture. Anything you want in the entire world is at your fingertips through the wonders of the Internet, and now that the Internet is built into many of our cellular devices, we can literally take the world with us wherever we go.

Not only can we access information, music, images, and people with lightning speed, but we actually seem to be able to fit more things and tasks into our lives through the wonders of multitasking. The other day, I was driving to a meeting, trying to go over my notes, eating pretzels and listening to NPR on the radio. Coincidentally, the morning program was about multitasking. According to the neuroscientist on the program, our minds really can’t do multiple things at once; we simply shift our focus between all of these tasks very, very quickly.The problem with all of these rapid shifts between activities is that we leave ourselves very little time and space to prepare for what comes next.

More importantly, we have forgotten about the importance of waiting. We think we are avoiding all of those terrible feelings like anxiety and impatience and frustration when we occupy our waiting minds with other things, but we also miss out on feelings of what Merriam-Webster calls “pleasurable expectation,” or anticipation.

Just think of the anticipation that would have surrounded the crowds who came out to hear John preaching there in the wilderness. He was a sight to see for sure, with his camel hair garb and that strange diet of locusts and honey. We get to experience
Advent every year. It’s on our calendars and so we know it’s on its way. But those crowds who traveled from Jerusalem out to the countryside had no idea how long they would have to wait or what they were even waiting for. All they knew was that this crazy guy was standing in the river, washing away sins, but that someone even more powerful was coming. Someone who would not only wash them clean, but who could make them whole. Someone who was about to turn the whole world upside down.
Now, that’s what I call anticipation.

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