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  • Rich Scheenstra

Seclusion


I miss you. That’s what I mainly wanted to say to you, my sisters and brothers. I especially became aware of that this morning when I read Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica: “But when we were separated from you, brothers and sisters, for a short time (in presence, not in affection) we became all the more fervent in our great desire to see you in person” (1 Thessalonians 2:17). Paul then talks about the Thessalonian church being “our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes.” When he comes. Missing being with you in person reminds me of how often I miss seeing Christ.


During Advent we look back and we look forward. We live in this time between Jesus’ first coming and his coming back. And we miss him. Even though I’ve never seen Jesus in person, I know him because of what the scriptures tell me about him and the many ways he's met me over the years. But I miss seeing him, and I can’t wait to see him. Yet I do have to wait, for him and for his kingdom; and Advent is that season when the missing and waiting become a kind of holy ground.


We’ve all heard about the vaccines. They are what’s giving us hope that in a few months things will get back to some kind of normal. So what do we do during this time of waiting – for the availability of the vaccine, for being able to see and worship with each other in person again, and ultimately seeing Jesus “again?”


I’m aware of two sisters (the biological kind) in our community, Lauren and Cindy, who are currently experiencing the joy and anticipation (and morning sickness) of being pregnant. The pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary make up a big part of the Advent story. After Elizabeth became pregnant she remained “in seclusion” for five months. After Mary conceived, she left home and spent three months with her cousin Elizabeth. We aren't told why. It wasn’t something they had to do, but something they chose to do.


I suppose we can see ourselves as having to experience the isolation and seclusion of this season or we can choose to experience it. Here is a question to consider: what is wanting to be born in me as I wait? Who is wanting to be born, i.e. what sort of person? What new thing, new life, new ministry, new relationship is wanting to happen? And how can I pray for that, and possibly begin to cultivate it?


So what is the Holy Spirit up to, do you think?

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