Stuck in the middle

Stuck in the middle

As I write this, I am sitting in the middle seat of a middle row about six hours into a 12-hour flight to Seoul, the first leg of my journey with Outreach Director Cara Taylor to Chiang Mai, Thailand. We are going to visit our global outreach partners with Thai Christian Foundation.

At this exact moment, I am very much right in the middle of the journey. I’m at that point where I have plowed through some shows, taken a little snooze, chatted with Cara for about an hour, and I’m starting to get antsy in the waiting for arrival. Of course, I know that when we finally touch down and we get to witness the work of the Lord in Thailand, it will be worth the wait. It will be a time marked by joy and celebration with dear friends and colleagues.  

Advent is a season of recognizing that we are living in the middle of things. It is the time of year when we pause to recognize that we live in the chaotic middle of two advents, the birth of Christ and his return. We both anticipate the joy and celebration of Christmas and acknowledge that things are not the way they are supposed to be. We anticipate and long for the day when all things will be made new through Christ. But for now, we are in the middle, the time of waiting.  

From my current 37,000-foot view (I just checked the flight tracker), I find myself considering what to do with the wait. That’s easy to do on an airplane. But the deeper question that I am considering is how do I practice waiting for that second advent? How do I wait for Christ’s return? How do we as a church community wait? I don’t think the answer is sitting back and binge watching The Office like I have been doing on this flight. Instead, I think that it’s an active anticipation, living out what the kingdom of God will look right now.  

As we study Isaiah this Advent season, we see glimpses of what that kingdom will look like. It’s a kingdom marked by hope, love, peace, and joy. It is a kingdom where our God lifts up the lowly and brings good news for the poor. As followers of Jesus, we get to herald that kingdom just like angels heralded Christ’s birth. We are the ones who point people to that hope, love, peace, and joy that we have in Jesus. While we wait, we lift up the lowly, and share good news with the poor.  

During this Advent season, there are several ways that you participate in that active practice of waiting and living out the kingdom of God, several ways you can herald the kingdom that is coming.  

  • You can invite the people in your life to come and experience the kingdom by inviting them to church for a Sunday morning worship service, GLOW this weekend, and Christmas Eve (scroll towards the bottom of this web page to see the times for Saturday, December 23, and Sunday, December 24.) 
  • Next, I want to invite you to take an ornament off the Generosity Tree and come to the two Compassion Kit builds on Sunday, December 17. If you’ve ever wondered if there is a solution to homelessness, there will be an opportunity to hear from our Local Outreach partner, Tacoma Rescue Mission, on the issue. Get more details here
  • Finally, I want to ask that you pray for our Benevolence volunteers. This group serves our community through financial assistance given through the Deacon fund. Last month they answered 54 calls and assisted 33 households. I mention it here because they are doing important kingdom work that many aren’t even aware is happening here at Chapel Hill. Learn more about the Deacons’ Benevolence Ministry here

Friends, this is just a glimpse of the kingdom work that you can be involved in at Chapel Hill. But it is a glimpse of the kingdom. During this time between two advents, let us herald the coming kingdom. Let’s not be stuck in the middle.  

Pastor Julie