Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Advent--Watching Time

"A string of questions overheard at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey at the start of a Giants football game, from a small boy clearly attending his first big sporting event:
'Daddy, which one is Phil Simms?'
'Is that real grass?' 
'Where is Lawrence Taylor?'
And finally, after several moments, as the players take to the field after the Cornell Big Red Marching Band to the fans' thunderous approval:
'Daddy, is this live?'"
   --from Dear Diary, The New York Times

Here we are again on the edge of Advent—four weeks until Christmas. I opened my old Book of Common Prayer to the Advent season and the first word of the first Scripture caught me. “Watch,” it said, “Watch ye, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” I got stuck on that first word: Watch. Hmmm. Watch—for what? The old text reminds us to keep our eyes open in the evening...or midnight...or early in the morning when the cock crows somewhere...or a little later in the morning. Watch.

Sounds so simple doesn’t it. I guess I’ve preached a whole lot of sermons from Jesus’ words in Mark. Yet, looking back I missed most of it—all that was going on around me. I was too busy writing it out for somebody else than to live it—this watch. Oh, I went from pillar to post—from hospital to nursing homes to listening to somebody’s problems or speaking at some Christmas breakfast or trying to smoothe some ruffled feathers and mostly I didn’t have a clue what I was missing.

Jesus said it doesn’t matter where you are and or even what condition you are in. Just watch. Cross-eyed in pain or pissed-off at life. Bored out of your skull or just wishing you could be somewhere else where life wasn’t so hard or complicated or maybe just winning the lottery which, if I had any sense would know really would not help.

So this Advent I’m trying to hang on to this tiny word: Watch. Funny word really. I am a watch (and clock) freak. I had a whole lot of watches in my dresser drawer. In every room in our house there are more than one clock—some ticking and some dead but there. They tell me the time—what time it is. Maybe my watch should be to look around me at what is happening this very minute. Not to kill time. Or to pass time. But to watch this moment.

Could it be, as old Moses sorta discovered that the place where we all stand is holy ground. Where the desert wind blows too strong and the scorpions do bite and the water is never enough and you are a zillion miles from where he promised you would be. Holy ground? Here—in my retirement years—with a shoulder that aches and feet that won’t let me run anymore. Here I am to watch. Maybe it will take some stretching for me to realize this place and this ground is holy. But maybe if I keep my eyes wide open maybe I shall see some of those wondrous things that have been there all along. Or if not see—at least try.

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