Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent Excitement

Like many people, I enjoy the movie The Shawshank Redemption and its theme of hope. Of the two major characters, Andy has hope (symbolized in his love of music and chess) but his friend Red believes that hope is deceptive and prevents a person from accepting reality as it is. After the movie has taken you through several despairing circumstances, the last five or ten minutes of the movie (with Thomas Newman's beautiful score) are so uplifting. Red arrives at a point where he does feel hope. He’s so excited “I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head.”

I had insomnia as a kid, which makes me think I had mild depression as early as grade school. But one morning I couldn't sleep because, as of midnight, it was Christmas Day! I recall that I awoke at 1 AM and begged my parents in the adjacent bedroom to let me get up and open presents. I tried again at 2 and 3, and then at 4 they finally relented. My poor parents!  I was so excited I couldn't lay still.

The Bible scholar William Barclay writes that Christians should be people “in a permanent sate of expectation.” [1] We can live in hope about the fullness of Christ’s presence. This isn't the same thing as wishing our physical lives were over. It means that, as long as we do live, we feel happy and hopeful at God’s steadfast love, and confident in the blessings God bestows for this life and the next. Amid life's difficulties, we might even feel restless excitement at the great love of God that never lets us go.

1. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke, by William Barclay (The Westminster Press, 1975), page 261.

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