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Advent, Humility, and Team Playing December 5, 2018

Posted by Ventura Dreamer in Blogroll.
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Advent, just like Lent, is a time of waiting and preparation. Yesterday’s and today’s devotional readings from the first chapter of Luke refer back to the old prophesies of the messenger who prepares the way for the Messiah.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.                                                                   

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

I woke to a text from a friend about her daughter’s volleyball championship game that we are going to tomorrow afternoon, so today’s devotional reading spoke quite clearly to me and I share this with the hope it speaks to you as well:

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5 ~ Read Luke 1:76-79 

I love volleyball. After the serve, each team has three touches to get the ball over the net to the opponent’s turf. At the competitive levels, the three touches have the same pattern: first, the reaction hit that simply gets the ball into the air after the other side sends it over. Then there’s the second touch: the set. This light touch is an easy-up that “sets” up the third touch: the spike, the light tap, or whatever play that will send the ball to an unprotected part of the opponent’s turf. The cycle repeats until one team misses. 

So often we get stuck in the belief that we are the first or third touches. We really want to be the third touch: the one who gets things done, achieves a goal, has the final word. So often we are the first touches: the light tap to another, the quick response to the ball as it comes to us. I believe the most important touch is the second: the one who sets up what comes next. There’s incredible power in this role, but it comes from a place of humility, a knowledge that you aren’t going to be the one who scores a point. 

In this passage, the long-awaited son of Zechariah and Elizabeth is born into a priestly family. Zechariah has been instructed by God to name the child John—not a family name. Zechariah, unable to speak since questioning the news of the birth, writes the name John—but John will not be a priest. He will be a prophet setting up the final touch for the one who will follow him: Jesus of Nazareth, soon to be born in Bethlehem. 

John won’t score the point, but John will be the one who sets up the One who is to come. 

– Jeremy Smith, Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church of Seattle, Washington.

My friend’s daughter would like to be the player who spikes the volleyball back, but her coach knows she’s a good setter and has put her into that second touch “set” assignment. Her team plays in the finals tomorrow and I’m sure her set-up work has been a big part of getting the team there. We all have been in that position and know lots of others who do the hard work with little recognition for what they have done. 

Jesus taught us servanthood through words and humble example. As we prepare for Christmas let’s not make it only about the presents, decorations, food, and parties. Let this time be like Lent – a time of spiritual renewal and character building, a time when we not only speak of Peace and Love but when we actively work to bring it to reality, if only for one person at a time, maybe only for moments. 

Let’s each of us take the humble setter’s position and through teamwork, bring a little light to the darkness.