Last week was the first week of Advent, and the focus in the Mosaic Bible is waiting. The theme of waiting is appropriate, but the way it was addressed brought up some questions and thoughts for me.
First, the Mosaic Bible's suggested Scripture readings and meditations did not just focus on the birth of Christ, like might be assumed. Rather, it included a smattering of perspectives of longing and waiting in a variety of contexts.
At first, I did not like this. I thought it would be most appropriate to focus on the reason for Advent--the birth of Jesus. Including other forms of waiting distracts from this focus. At the same time, as I kept reading through the week, I found I appreciated more and more the different perspectives of waiting and the way longing has appeared in many forms throughout the Bible.
I do like how the editors tried to focus the idea of waiting on excerpts that could be applicable to readers' current lives. Again, waiting on the Christ child (sorry, the event is past) is hard to relate to now. At least for me... And then there can be whole argument about Christ's Second Coming, but that gets into other theological debates. And that's still an abstract concept. It's not something I, at least, think about regularly.
At the same time, the various perspectives and contexts in this case made this week feel much more disconnected and disjointed than other weeks' meditations have been. Other weeks have been very well-organized and all excerpts clearly connected. This week had been bouncing between waiting for Christmas and waiting for everything else I long for in life. Maybe I haven't connected the two as much as I should, and that may be some of the point of this week, but in any case, that's some of my reaction.
The other big reaction I had was to the idea of waiting and longing itself. The introduction to this week's topic of Longing discussed how much of Christianity is centered around waiting for things to be better and restored later. I agree with that. The pain of the present and recognizing this is now how things were meant to be is important. Focusing on this for the season of Advent may be appropriate.
At the same time, I find myself longing and waiting most of the time. To the detriment of the present. While our culture may not advocate waiting, it also does not advocate for appreciating the present very well.
For me, my focus is always in the future: Everything I'm doing now is just so things will be better later. I'll work hard and sacrifice now so I can relax later. But later does not always come. And killing yourself now to enjoy later is not necessarily a good way to live. It can cause depression and anxiety, which are definitely not good ways to live. As Brother Lawrence described in The Practice of the Presence of God, it is particularly important to watch for and experience God now, in the moment, and not just expect him to show up later.
Practicing God's presence now and longing for restoration in the future are not necessarily mutually exclusive ideas. In many ways, they work nicely together. However, some of us probably spend more time in one of those areas than the other, and then should probably spend more of their devotional time in the opposite side to re-train themselves. For me, I think I need to spend more time seeing the blessings I have right now instead of just waiting for others to come later... What about you? What do you think?