My life often reminds me of a well-used pencil. I am often missing the point! I am like the guy who climbs up the ladder of success only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall.
My good friend Donnie has an expression that I find helpful. He says, “Give your head a shake!” I need to heed his advice regularly so that I can recalibrate my life. I too easily get off course. In fact if I don’t pay attention it is inevitable that I will meander off only to later wonder “How did I get here?” The undisciplined life leads “into the pucker-bush” (another Donnie-ism) as surely as water runs downhill.
I have found that paying attention to the seasons of the Church help me with my natural discipline problems. This is particularly true for me as I practise the disciplines of Advent. Advent is the season when we ponder the “Kingdom of God” and especially the King himself, as we look for his return. We long for, wait for, pine for, this return. Our waiting is pregnant with hope that he will finally put things right. His reign will be fully realised! What has been promised and we have merely tasted we will then fully know!
Advent is though not just a time to be sentimental about that glorious future it is a time to roll up our sleeves and work toward that day. Jesus declares his “Kingdom is at hand”. It is like a fiat from the King which has made effective his proclamation. That we do not presently fully experience it does not nullify its proclamation. A law proclaimed by parliament is in effect even if the citizenry have not yet felt its affect. We the people of Advent are privileged to make evident this declaration. We are charged with living as subjects of the Kingdom of God so that others will know and experience the reign of our Good King.
The Kingdom is one of love and so I must love. I may not, in fact will not, love perfectly but my responsibility as a citizen of this Kingdom is to love.
The Kingdom is one of justice and so I must act justly and advocate for justice. I will do so imperfectly but I will do so!
The Kingdom is one of Jubilee, the year of the Lord’s favour when forgiveness is the theme and so I will forgive. I do so imperfectly but this is a big part of my Advent discipline.
All of this draws my attention to my imperfection and lack and so Advent calls me to draw upon the resources of my King. I cannot but I can be yoked to him and so do what would be too hard for me.
Advent calls me beyond celebrating that I am ‘saved’ from a self-destructive kingdom into the Kingdom of light and life. Advent calls me from selfish celebration to a selfless living following the example of my Servant King.
Advent gives me hope that I can make a difference. Advent gives me hope that the Church can make a difference. It calls me to repent from my indifference. It calls me to assure that my ladder is leaning against the right wall. The climb maybe steep but it is filled with hope.