Theme of the Week: Advent
Bible Verse: When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. Luke 1:57-58
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:23-25, 57-66
I’ve got this theory. It’s not scientific, nor is it based on any empirical data or analytical research. You might say it’s more of a crack-pot hunch. None-the-less, it’s mine and therefore I think it’s tremendously clever. I think I’ve figured out why time seems to go faster the older I get. It is about percentages of lived experience. When you’re a five-year-old your total life experience amounts to 60 months, and you can probably only access memories from half of those months. When you’re a 50-year-old your total life experience is ten times longer. Time hasn’t sped up, but the units by which we measure time—days, months, years—constitute a smaller percentage of our total experience.
This is why little kids squirm in the back seat asking, “Are we there yet?” It’s why we old(er) folks see time as a fleeting and non-renewable resource to be cherished while my young adult sons feel like they’ll live forever. It’s why for five-year-old me, Christmas took FOREVER to get here and why now it seems to come every 3 months.
Whether fast or slow, young or old, the Advent season is a time of waiting, anticipation, and arrival—even when from a human perspective time seems to have run out. Elizabeth’s story announces the arrival of joy that displaces hopelessness for someone for whom time has run out.
Elizabeth had waited and waited and waited for God to show up and eventually had been forced to make peace with the fact that the nursery would remain empty. She knew the pain of a childless existence in a culture where a woman’s primary purpose was to bear children and provide heirs. Now, after Zechariah’s angelic encounter in the temple she would know what it was like to care for a husband who could no longer communicate with her.
The life of Elizabeth helps us confront a nagging human question, “How do we live a life of anticipation when time seems to have run out and things move from bad to worse? The answer is simple but not easy. Joy, more often than not, follows faithfulness rather than circumstances. As I enter the final third of my life, I am becoming more acutely aware that time is truly a fleeting resource. But that does not mean that life is hopeless. There is still joy in faithfulness rather than circumstances.
Prayer: God of heaven and earth, help me to remain faithful as I wait. When circumstances rob my joy, send reminders of your faithfulness. I confess that happiness is fleeting—I chose to live in the joy of the Lord. Give Your joy in the journey even when it seems You’ve fallen behind my schedule. I trust Your timing.
Reflection: Are there circumstances in life that rob you of joy? What is the difference between joy and happiness? Can you tell the difference? Can you find joy in the midst of loss and sorrow?
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