Tag: reflections

Dec 8 2010

Advent reflection: Invest in the gift of joyful anticipation

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

ìMake your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.î (James 5:8)

In the second reading this Sunday from the Letter of James (James 5:7-10) we are advised to be patient as we wait for the coming of the Lord.

But patience, though it is a virtue, is also a hard sell in a society like ours that places such value on instant gratification.

Our lives are filled with microwave ovens, instant messages, movies on-demand and a million other little enhancements that fuel our hunger for immediate results.

It seems the more time we save with these gee-whiz wonders of contemporary life, the less time we are willing to invest in the kind of patient waiting that the Advent season calls us to.

Benito from Nicaragua

Benito, a sponsored child from Nicaragua

It might be good for those of us who struggle with patience to ask ourselves just what purpose our impatience serves.

What do we gain from the five minutes we save at the drive-up window? How are our lives richer because we can text and shop at the same time?

Do these abilities enhance the moments of our lives or simply fill them? And, if we are in a hurry, what is it we are hurrying to?

When CFCA sponsors visit the communities where sponsored friends live, they often receive a surprise bonus ñ a valuable lesson in time non-management.

Sponsor visits are causes for celebration in these towns and villages, and the people prepare joyous receptions complete with parades, music and food. But, travel being what it is in developing countries, our sponsor groups are sometimes hours late in arriving.

In the U.S., such delays would likely be cause for anxiety, but in the CFCA world they only increase the joyful anticipation. Where we might be worried about getting off schedule, the people in these communities accept delays as an unexpected gift.

The longer it takes for some gifts to arrive, the more deeply we appreciate them. Ask a pregnant mother who longs to see her babyís face, or the father of a soldier serving overseas.

They know lessons about anticipation that only time and love can teach. They are not always easy lessons, but they are life-changing ones.

As we continue our journey toward Christmas, may we be people of patience. May we wait for Jesus with joyful anticipation, always open to the unplanned lesson, always ready for the unexpected gift.

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Dec 1 2010

Advent reflection: Dare to dream of a better world

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

ìÖhe shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the landís afflicted.î (Isaiah 11:4)

The second Sunday in Advent presents us with one of the most evocative images in Scripture. In this lovely reading from Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1-10), the prophet paints a magnificent picture of wolves reclining alongside lambs and babies playing in safety around venomous snakes.

He describes a peaceful land of hay-eating lions and gentle leopards, where former predators recline without aggression and the former prey roam without fear.

Isaiah uses this picturesque image to stir the imagination as he foretells the coming of the Messiah.

Writing in a time of upheaval for Israel, with the glory days of David long past and the kingdom largely decimated, the prophet seeks to both admonish and reassure the people.

Just wait until the Messiah ó the Son of David ó comes! He will restore glory to Israel and bring order and harmony to the land.

Flash forward to 2010. Disorder reigns and harmony is in short supply. Lions still eat meat and wise parents still keep their children away from snakes.

More than 2,000 years after the birth of the one Christians embrace as the Messiah, the world is no better than it was in Isaiahís day. So what gives?

Martha and Suzanne

Martha, left, from Nicaragua, and her sponsor, Suzanne

The people who first knew Jesus were forced to grapple with that same question. And, ultimately, those who chose to follow him had to let go of some deeply rooted, preconceived notions.

They had to empty themselves of their expectations of the Messiah as a great king or military leader in order to embrace a savior more powerful than they could have imagined. They had to take a leap of faith to discover the true Christ.

It is the same for us. At times we are tempted to wrap ourselves in our own preconceptions like a security blanket, especially at this time of year when the sentimentality of the holidays is hard to resist.

But if our Advent preparation ó our reflection on the coming of the Christ ó never gets past the baby in the manger, we canít grow in our awareness of who Jesus is and what he truly means for each of us and for our world.

We, too, must take leaps of faith. We must push our comfort zones and dare to dream, like Isaiah, of a world different from the one we now see.

Those who participate in CFCAís Hope for a Family program ó sponsors and sponsored persons ó have taken the leap of faith necessary to embrace the dream of a world where people share their blessings with one another and help lift each other up.

And their dream is coming true, one relationship at a time.

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