Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent, Day 9: Endurance.

Today's reading: Psalm 72:1-17, 18-19

He will endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon,
through all generations. (v. 5)

Our culture, particularly in America, is not a big fan of things that endure. We're more interested in the disposable, the replaceable, the trendy. We've made a sport of the destruction of cars; the "honor" of pushing the button to dynamite a building is a prize to be won. At this season, especially, we are inundated with reminders that our old ______ (fill in the blank!) is not good enough and we really should replace it with _______ if we want to be happy. The Next Big Thing always replaces the previous "big thing," and before long we barely remember what was so great about it in the first place, as we look forward to all that's still awaiting our discovery.

For my family, a military family that moves frequently, we replace not only material things but home addresses, school attendance, and church membership with regularity. In fact, not to put it too bluntly, but in a sense even our relationships (at least our in-person friendships) are replaced every couple of years. "Endurance" in our experience means a home-base that lasts as much as 24 or 36 months... and there are times when we are even thankful for this transience, when we know that we never have to "stick it out" too long in situations that aren't our ideal.

All of this, I think, means that Psalm 72 and its promises of God's enduring reign are more difficult for us to understand than we would care to admit. In the insiders' language of Christian-ese, we talk with confidence and conviction about the "eternal" and the "everlasting." But it seems our Christian culture is often trumped by our contemporary culture, and we don't even realize that we've so firmly acclimated to our short attention span and our keeping-up-with-the-Joneses striving. We have been told (and I think we've often believed) that all that matters is this. This house, this holiday, this issue, this relationship, this election, this right, this project, this paragraph, this task, this technology. This now.

Yes, all of our days matter, as they are a part of eternity. But can we be fully invested in now when all our nows, and all our this-es, are disposable--replaceable--only urging us on to the coming, and chronically transient, next?

God's eternity has already begun; it is not the Next Big Thing. In God's version of endurance, in the reign of peace and justice, the full Presence of the Holy One is engaged in a lasting This. All eternity, "as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations," is Now.

Everlasting God, teach us what it truly means to be about the things that endure; help us to release our grasp on the disposable promises and priorities of our culture. Remind us that our investment in each day is not for our own benefit but for the building of your reign. Amen.

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