Advent Hope Is Not

tinsel, market projections, gift cards -- no.

Advent hope is not that a pretty baby will appear in the manger and sales will rise and the economy will resurrect. Advent hope is that empires will fall: all empires, with their idolatry, their gluttony, their pollution, their wars, their intrigue, their murder, and their weapons. . . . Advent hope is that our own empire will fall, and our own idolatry cease.
— Shelley Douglass

Advent hope is that our own empire will fall,

and our own idolatry cease.


"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your King comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will take away the chariots from Ephraim,
and the war-horses of Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.

He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth."

Desiring to be Desired

photo by Paula Leme //

What is love? 

It's a hard word to define, isn't it? French philosopher Yann Dall'Aglio has defined it as "desiring to be desired." (Or in the words of Cheap Trick: "I Want You to Want Me").

Playing with this brief definition for a minute can help us understand ourselves in our world, an aim which Dall'Aglio makes his own. He says that in the modern world our need for love, "desiring to be desired," has created a seduction economy, in which we frantically collect things that we think will make us desirable. In his TEDxParis talk he says: 

It is said in this consumption that our age is materialistic. But it’s not true! We only accumulate objects to communicate with other minds. We do it to make them love us, to seduce them. Nothing could be less materialistic or more sentimental than a teenage boy buying a pair of new jeans and tearing them at the knees –for Jennifer.
— Yann Dall'Aglio

Dall'Aglio is not offering a religious definition of love and the one he offers isn't robust enough to serve that lofty purpose. Still, his brief definition of love is certainly part of what the fullest definition would include, so take one moment to consider it––

God loves you.
He desires that you would desire Him.
When He thinks about you (all the time), He hopes that you would think of Him, that you would turn toward Him, that you might say His name, might say thank you, might tell Him what's on your mind, might smile when you consider His gifts, might yearn for Him, might be with Him. 
He desires that you would desire Him. 

Our Redeemer thirsts for recognition. He hungers for the sympathy and love of those whom He has purchased with His own blood. He longs with inexpressible desire that they should come to Him and have life. As the mother watches for the smile of recognition from her little child, which tells of the dawning of intelligence, so does Christ watch for the expression of grateful love, which shows that spiritual life is begun in the soul.
— Ellen G White, Desire of Ages (191)

The Exact Truth Should Be the Law of Speech

       Sensationalism. Scandal-mongering. Name calling. "News." ––It seems that yellow journalism is back with a vengeance. 

       Maybe we can blame the 24-hour news cycle that fills the airwaves with, uh, something . . . even when it has nothing to say. 

       Maybe we can blame the rise of video for making us all more interested in a 45-second clip of anything even when it has nothing to do with something. 

       Maybe we can blame an increasingly polarized political situation in which the other guy is wrong because, well, he's WRONG, okay? He just is. Never has a politician been so anti-American and backwards as this guy! Only fools and monsters would vote for him!––thus distorting our sense of proportion and demonstrating our inability to follow well-reasoned arguments to reasonable conclusions. 

       This is bad for our political climate, bad for our policy-making, bad for our neighborliness, bad for our critical thinking, bad bad bad

       It's bad in the world, but it's far worse when it's in the church. Sermons and blogs and "news" stories in which we underhandedly denigrate believers who believe differently than we do, in which we defame by exaggeration or misrepresentation, in which we thinly veil our slander under the guise of journalism or righteous reformation: 

this is the body of Christ eating itself, one bloody bite at a time. 

The Father, Son, and Spirit weep at the sight of these things.

Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times,  "You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord." But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  
Let your word be "Yes, Yes," or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one. [matthew 5:33-37, nrsv]

Jesus told us to "swear not at all." For those of us not really in the habit of making oaths and swearing by things, what's the message for us? >> The exact truth should be the law of speech

       In a world of multiplying divisions and deepening divides, where words are wielded to wound and the "other" is an enemy, this message of Jesus is an eminently relevant one: SPEAK ONLY THE TRUTH. When you speak of your brother, speak only the truth. When you represent the beliefs of your sister, speak only the truth. When you disagree with that preacher publicly, speak only the truth. When you need to criticize an author, speak only the truth. The exact truth should be the law of speech.

"Jesus proceeded to lay down a principle that would make oath taking needless. He teaches that the exact truth should be the law of speech. 'Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one.' . . . . 
         "If these words of Christ were heeded, they would check the utterance of evil surmising and unkind criticism; for in commenting upon the actions and motives of another, who can be certain of speaking the exact truth? How often pride, passion, personal resentment, color the impression given! A glance, a word, even an intonation of the voice, may be vital with falsehood. Even facts may be so stated as to convey a false impression. And 'whatsoever is more than' truth, 'is of the evil one.'
         "Everything that Christians do should be as transparent as the sunlight. Truth is of God; deception, in every one of its myriad forms, is of Satan; and whoever in any way departs from the straight line of truth is betraying himself into the power of the wicked one. Yet it is not a light or an easy thing to speak the exact truth. We cannot speak the truth unless we know the truth; and how often preconceived opinions, mental bias, imperfect knowledge, errors of judgment, prevent a right understanding of matters with which we have to do! We cannot speak the truth unless our minds are continually guided by Him who is truth.
        "Through the apostle Paul, Christ bids us, 'Let your speech be alway with grace.' 'Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.' (Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29)"

(Ellen White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 67-68.)

Christian, as you speak, tweet, post, or share, remember: 
the exact truth + alway with grace.

We Need to Clasp A Hand That Is Warm

This warmed my heart so much. I want these words to be my own. 

Read this aloud to help you hear it.

What am I to think when my spirit is sad and longing?

It was the Maker of all things who ordained the wonderful adaptation of means to end, of supply to need. It was He who in the material world provided that every desire implanted should be met. It was He who created the human soul, with its capacity for knowing and for loving. And He is not in Himself such as to leave the demands of the soul unsatisfied. No intangible principle, no impersonal essence or mere abstraction, can satisfy the needs and longings of human beings in this life of struggle with sin and sorrow and pain. It is not enough to believe in law and force, in things that have no pity, and never hear the cry for help. We need to know of an almighty arm that will hold us up, of an infinite Friend that pities us. We need to clasp a hand that is warm, to trust in a heart full of tenderness. And even so has God in His word revealed Himself.

Ellen G. White, Education (page 133)

It was God who created the human soul, with its capacity for knowing and for loving.