Advent: Experience God In Our Midst

Katie-pipesDear Friends of Kenilworth Union Church,

Colleges call it Duck Syndrome, but it is by no means limited to the university context. Duck Syndrome is that well known pressure to appear “effortlessly perfect”: smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful, and popular, all without visible effort. Our culture calls us to be like ducks; gliding calmly across the waters of life, while hiding beneath the surface just how frantically and relentlessly we are paddling. The duck life is hard for all of us, most certainly for our teenagers, but also for any of us who feel like wearing a mask is the only option, or hiding our struggle is the only way.

The Paris attacks might be the very thing to remind us that life is more precious than perfection, and to show us that our own imperfections are small compared to the deepest sorrows of the world. However, what if, in some ways, the Paris attacks reinforce our Duck Syndrome, causing us think that if we are smart enough, accomplished enough, good enough, that we can rid the world of all violence and evil?

Maybe, as Christians, we are called to yet another way—not to hide our struggles below the surface like a duck or hide in shame because of our imperfections, but instead to share our vulnerabilities with God, to confess even our deepest mistakes to the One-who-forgives, and to boldly go out to love our neighbor and even our enemy.

We are about to enter the season of Advent. Candles will be lit in worship, prophetic scripture will be read, and hope will be named. We will read about that hope for a day when God will establish peace; “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” We will join the millennia of ancient people crying out for the day when “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isa 2:4)

I witnessed a little boy at the store tug on his mom’s jacket and say, “Why are there Christmas decorations out, Christmas is still a long way off?” And, he couldn’t be more right, but Advent, our season of waiting is about to begin. Our prayers these days are truly advent prayers, waiting prayers, longing prayers, saying, “O Lord, how long?”

Let us gather together in these days of waiting, for prayer and hope and a community in which to know and experience God-in-our-midst.

Rev. Katie Snipes Lancaster