The first day of Advent was this past Sunday. I guess I’m a scrooge because I don’t like this season. There’s too much fake happiness and high expectations. There is too much tinsel and Holiday madness. It’s difficult for me to find God in December which is why I don’t like this month at all. To top it off, I don’t even like snow!

But this Christmas season is going to be different. Worship at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church put me in the right mood. We didn’t sing bright, catchy Christmas carols but rather the Advent hymns of expectation. I pondered a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer printed on the worship bulletin. “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” I read it over and over again trying to understand for it seemed rather odd.

Pictures of the wise men, Mary and Joseph or the baby Jesus are often on bulletin covers this time of year. Instead, this order of worship had the picture of the clock printed above. What does a clock have to do with this season, I thought?

In Mark Ramsey’s sermon that morning he mentioned several questions that Jesus answered: questions about the resurrection and paying taxes being among them. “But when they asked him the Advent question – ‘When is God coming? What time is it really?’ Jesus said, ‘I don’t know.'” He continued, “When is the justice? When is the fairness? When is the peace? When is the food that fills every stomach? When is the water that quenches every thirst? When…is the joy? How do we tell time in God’s world? And Jesus said: ‘I don’t know.'”

However, we do know that God will come in surprising and strange ways. Mark said, “There is hope. There is tomorrow. There is good coming from the hand and the will and the heart of God! There will be justice. There will be acceptance and love. Prejudice will be washed downstream. There will be food on every table and children will live in safety and delight! God will come!”

So when is Advent? How do we tell time in God’s world? Jesus has said, “I can’t tell you how…God is full of surprises.” This gives me hope. I can’t do all I did before my TBI but God will come in unexpected ways. So this Advent, I’m going to be watchful and wait for my prison cell to be opened. And it will. Who knows what the future holds? This Advent, I will watch with great expectation.

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