Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Advent: Week 1 - "Unplugged"

Text: Isaiah 64:1-9; Mark 13:24-37

Growing up in the 90s I loved watching MTV Unplugged. It was like my very own concert in the middle of my living room. It was an opportunity to showcase an artist's raw talent: the singer left vulnerable, their words uncluttered, and instruments freed to sing their own song.

There is something to be said for those with status or fame who choose to show a different side; to let go of the “stuff” and just be present. There is risk involved when a well-known musician leaves the “tricks” behind and returns to the basics.

The text from Isaiah is situated in a time when the community is desperate for something real; something that satisfies. The people, including the prophet, send up a communal confession; they beg and plead in telling God how sorry they are for walking away.

Can you picture them now? Can you hear Creation groaning, in a pitchy, beautifully raw voice crying out for reconciliation?

Isaiah’s community desperately wants to see God’s face, the equivalent of knowing they are in right relationship with their Creator. The people of God are ready to make a new start of things and they put their hope in God’s remembering that they belong to God. If we were to be that real, to let go of the things that bind us, the reputation, the pride, I wonder if our lament would possess the same beautifully raw voice?

God's coming-to-dwell-among-us event requires the same kind of Unplugged attitude as the people of Israel. Whether it’s synthesizers or auto-tune, consumerism and greed, these are all things that distort the Love we so desperately need to hear in Advent. We need the time and space to ask ourselves questions and to reflect if we are where God is calling us. And that’s where “unplugging” can help. We cannot begin to ask the questions, let alone seek answers, if we’re barreling through Thanksgiving toward Christmas surrounded by Black Friday and Cyber Monday; the incessant “wants” in a world of great need.

As we prepare ourselves for this holy season of waiting, perhaps an intentional unplugging from the things that bind us can serve as our Advent offering.

Reflection Questions:
What is one thing from which I can unplug?
What is one thing inviting me to plug in?

Unplug digitally by leaving your phone off or signing out of FB and Twitter apps. Read more about a digital fast here. For creative ideas on slowing down and unplugging, check out Sabbath Manifesto.

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life

Awake my soul, Awake my soul, Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
- Mumford & Sons, “Awake My Soul”

Rev. Shalom R. Agtarap is the pastor of Ellensburg UMC, a growing faith community in central Washington state. While Seattle is home for her, she enjoys a different part of Washington state living, but severely dislikes shoveling snow. She completed undergraduate studies at the University of Washington and graduate work at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Shalom completed the Upper Room's Academy for Spiritual Formation last year and as a result, drinks deeply from the well of guided meditation and spiritual reading.

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