Cal D. Zehr is in his 25th year as the pastor of Willow Springs Mennonite Church, Tiskilwa, Illinois. He serves on the Mennonite Church USA Leadership Discernment Committee. Cal runs an electrical contracting business. Last June, he completed six years as the moderator of the Illinois Mennonite Conference. Cal and Carol have four your adult daughters and three son-in-laws. They live with their Border Collie in Tiskilwa.
As a youngster, I would often be with my mom or dad while they were shopping. As they shopped, they might be simply “filling in the time” by looking around at various merchandise.
Sometimes a store worker would ask, “May I help you?” And often my parent would reply, “No, I’m only looking.”
At times I now reply, “I’m only looking,” when I am out in various stores while Carol, my wife, shops elsewhere.
But sometimes, as I look through a store, I discover something new “Oh, I could find some use for _________ in my life,” I think.
I do electrical work and a new tool might just make life go better for me in my work and for my customer as well. I can get sucked into the latest product that will finally bring the answer to my need. I could really use that, I often think.
All the sudden I may have a real, perceived need, and then I look to fill it. I’m no longer, “only looking”; I want an answer to my need. The real challenge comes when I begin to think that I need something, someone or some experience to make my life complete. I’m no longer “only looking.” Now I’m shopping for an answer.
Jesus knew that we humans search and shop for the deep, true needs of our life. And he knew that we long for the culmination and consummation of time: for the completeness of God to be known and ushered in.
We fill in this time, Advent, and we do not want to reply, “I’m only looking.” We demand to have the resolution right now. We want to just buy it: Put it in a bag and I want to take it with me!
Jesus teaches about our waiting time and the possibility of restlessness for the conclusion to come:
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. ‘So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.” Matthew 24:23-38 (NIV)
So watch out for deception, whether from others or good ol’ self deception. Do not be scared or anxious in the middle of all the questions of your life and of the day. Do not be shopping for answers from politicians, political parties, causes or lifestyles. Do not go chasing around from here to there for the answers.
God reigns now and we know that the Anointed Son will return in fullness sometime. That’s enough said in these 15 words.
Here God gives the gift of peace this Advent. We know many answers. We also simply hold many, many questions. And we maintain a healthy suspicion of someone pointing to or wanting to take us to the other messiahs arriving on the scene.
Can we be a people that declares, “I’m no longer looking” this Advent? Perhaps at one time we were “only looking.” Now, we live in peace in our “already here” reality and at peace with the not yet.
Our Messiah has come and will come in deeper ways. May you grow in trust and meld your purposes of life into God’s purposes of wholeness, completeness and the Shalom of God. May God form your life vision of God’s Shalom for your life, family, friends enemies and the systems we live in.
Rejoice, the lightning will flash for all.
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