Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent - the art of communication

In today's world people are talking or communicating more frequently than at any other time in human history. Back in the day, if you wanted to talk to someone you might a) pick up the phone, b) write a letter, c) record a message on a little spool of tape, or a cassette and put it in the mail or d) actually go visit someone and talk face-to-face.

Today, few people use these options to make a human connection anymore. Yes, we talk on the mobile phone, but many prefer to text. And yes, we'll visit in homes with friends, but drop-in visits are a thing of the ancient past.

This is not a bad thing necessarily. Take a look at people on the street, or in a crowded room, or even on the bus. Chances are at least 50 percent or more of those people have some kind of phone in their hands, and they're texting, showing someone photos, reading e-mails or listening to music. And then many can carry on several conversations simultaneously; multiple messages pop up, demanding instant responses and immediate attention. Cryptic replies are sent out at a feverish pace. With texting, sending instant messages, and e-mailing, there are increasingly numerous ways for people to communicate.

If our "face time" with one another is dwindling, our time spent one on one with God is on the endangered list. Our busy world with endless to-do lists challenges the notion of the importance of quiet time with our Creator.

Advent invites us to turn that life-draining pattern upside down. Advent announces that God is not willing to have a distant, arms-length relationship with us -- God's beloved creatures formed in God's image. Advent is all about God's willingness -- even insistence -- to be vulnerable, accessible, reachable, and attainable. Advent breaks down the barriers between the created and the Creator.

God does begin the process with a message. There's the silent, distant memorandum of the star in the sky. Yet there it is, an open invitation to anyone who will receive it.