Living the Usual Unusually Well

Yesterday morning we kicked off our one year experiment with the lectionary readings. It was also the first Sunday of the Advent season and it was quite interesting to me to note that the Scriptures texts for the first Sunday in the new liturgical year pointed to the return of Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom here on earth. Talk about beginning with the end in mind.

I found Jesus’ words in Luke 21:28 especially potent:

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Often when people consider the words of Jesus and the end times, things can get amped up pretty quickly. Sometimes I feel that people actually believe they can sped up the return of Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom here on earth through their frenetic activity.

While I applaud passion and seek to live a more passionate life of faith myself, I find that at certain times and in certain contexts, people feel a compulsion to focus on the unusual and the extraordinary (kind of like the season leading up to Christmas when people can get amped up over all sorts of external and nonessential things). So my question this morning is, “in light of the reality that our redemption is drawing near, what kind of life does the Advent of Christ invite us to live?”

These words from Dianne Bergant speak strongly to that very question:

“The Advent way of life does not necessarily require unusual behavior on our part, but it calls us to live the usual unusually well. It affects the everyday events of life; it directs the way we interact with people; it informs the attitudes that color our judgments and motivations. It is as ordinary as the birth of a child; it is as extraordinary as the revelation of God.”

Jesus calls us to live the usual unusually well. This reminds me of Eugene Peterson’s translation Romans 12:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

God is not looking for extraordinary and unusual acts of faithfulness, courage, daring or sacrifice. Worship is offering our everyday, ordinary lives back to God for the life of the world.

What would it look like for you to live the usual unusually well? And how might God take our simple acts of faith, hope, and love – infuse them with His Spirit and use them in the establishment of His kingdom here on earth?

I will give the last word this morning to Francis of Assisi:

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

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