I’m back! It has been a busy week, pastorally speaking. We had a sudden death in our congregation and the pastoral tasks that go along with something of the like are great. My days (and nights) have been so consumed with work that I have not been able to even think about my blog which has been sitting sadly idle. I, however, am back to regular life, and I am back to writing. I try not to make too many extended absences, but alas, pastoral life is often unpredictable.
This past week, despite my resolution to slow down this Advent, was not able to slow down. I was logging thirteen to sixteen hour days, my mind was always consumed with the details of the memorial services, details of the upcoming and regular worship service, details with some of the Christmas activities at church. How was I going to get everything done? How was I going to get both sermons done? How were we going to have enough space to hold all of the activities we need to do? On top of this, we are having guests visit the church, who grew up in the Presbyterian church to which our building formerly belonged, and I don’t want them to think bad things about me, or us, because our building is cluttered and with so much deferred maintenance.
Not only were my early mornings and late nights consumed with these concerns, so were my dreams.
I nearly forgot that it was Advent, I nearly forgot about Advent as a season of preparation, and as a season of repentance, a season of hope and expectation. I nearly forgot to stop and listen to God.
I am eager to blame everything that is going on, I am eager to blame all of the things that I have to do for this. I am eager to point to the fact that I have so much to do, and this is the reason why my own experience and my own formation as a disciple of Christ had been pushed to the back burner.
The culprit, however, was not necessarily busy-ness, but rather hurry.
Hurry is an interesting concept Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, defines “hurry” in many ways, among them: “to carry or cause to go with haste” and “to perform with undue haste.” Noticeably absent is the mention of outside forces, that the problem of hurry is outside of us.
Hurry is a state of being, it is an outlook, often times, it is an orientation to life.
Hurry is the insidious enemy of delighting in God. I think of Mary and Martha — Martha so busy and frustrated at Mary for not helping, and Mary who simply sat at the feet of Jesus — and it was Martha who was admonished! (Luke 10:38-42). I think of John the Baptizer, an individual who must have seemed crazy at the time (and if we saw him today, we would be certain he had a psychiatric disorder), who preached in the wilderness to prepare the way for Jesus (Luke 3:1-18; Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8). When asked for particular ways to repent, John told them that if someone had two coats, to give one to someone who did not have one, if someone had food, to share with someone who did not.
It takes an unhurried worldview to listen to God, to travel out into the wilderness to listen to what may seem like rantings of the insane, to share with those who lack because it takes time to notice them.
How many times have I passed someone on the street, sometimes even without noticing, because I was hurried? I dare not even guess a number.
Keri Wyatt Kent uses the image of a jar of river water, all shaken up, to speak about a hurried life. River water contains all sorts of sediment, particles, minerals, and murky, when it settles, the water is able to become clear (Deeply Loved, ch. 25). The problem with Martha is not that she was busy, it was that she was living in a state of hurry, so much so that she was unable to experience and enjoy the gift that she had with Jesus in her home.
Last week, I was busy, that is to be sure. however, the bigger problem is that I was hurried, and this hurry is something we must always work against, because hurry pulls us away from God, away from the experience of God, and distracts us from the fullness of what we are called to: love for God and love and care for others
This Advent, I will begin to remove hurry from my life, even when I am busy, and I invite you to do the same.
This post is in the Deeply Loved Advent Blog Hop Series hosted by Angie Mabry-Nauta
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