Celebrating Anniversaries

Then he called his 10 servants, gave each of them 10 minas, and said, “Engage in business until I come back.” – Luke 19:13

So be on the alert, because you don’t know on what day your Lord will come back. – Matthew 24:42

This is Jody’s and my wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, Jody has to be at work today, and I’m glued to this computer screen. We’ll commemorate the occasion tomorrow. Because our wedding was on Thanksgiving weekend, I really feel OK with celebrating on different days. In a way the entire weekend feels like an anniversary!

Anniversaries are kind of interesting. We take on a bond, a commitment in marriage that last until we are parted by death. It’s forever and always. At the same time we commemorate our continued experience every year. I guess it depends on how one’s marriage is going whether you breathe a sigh of relief or do a happy dance because you’re so excited about looking forward.

Very few of us regard it as contradictory to have a permanent commitment and at the same time to commemorate our relationship every year. In fact, I suspect that many of you think it is weird for me to put it that way. That’s what we all do. It’s what everybody does. How can you make something special out of it?

Well, I can, perhaps because my mind works in odd ways. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday in advent. For those of you who don’t use the lectionary in your church services, let me give you the list of texts: Isaiah 64:1-9 (“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down!”), Psalm 80 (“come and save us!”), 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (“waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ”), and Mark 13:24-37 (“don’t let it come on you while you’re asleep”). I see a very similar situation going on in the church relating to living in this world, commemorating what God has done, and being prepared for the return of our Lord.

In the year of our Lord 2008, it seems like we’ve been doing a lot of waiting and a lot of commemorating. Where is he?

There’s that tension that is illustrated by our two verses. Do business, go on about the affairs of the world you live in until I come back (Luke 19:13), while at the same time constantly being aware that Jesus may return.

As Christians, indeed as human beings, we tend to do one or the other. We are going to either focus on this world, or we’re going to focus on the next. We can understand the hermit who withdraws from the world. We can understand the businessman who makes his worldly life his main concern. It’s the demand to do both that’s much harder.

I’m going to suggest that this isn’t a balance, it’s a 100% + 100% combination. Just as I don’t think there’s any contradiction between having a good marriage and even talking about that good marriage frequently all year, and also celebrating it on a single day, so I don’t think there’s any contradiction between living for God in this world during the week, celebrating him in worship on Sunday, and watching for him to return.

If you’re experience each Sunday is not a taste of eternity that gives you energy to “do business” until your Lord comes, perhaps you need to pray for and reach for that some more.

What will you commemorate this advent season. Is it another year in which Jesus did not return, or is it one more year in which you are privileged to live in the hope of the Lord’s return and the resurrection?

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