Week 2 of Advent | Steve Simpler

Thursday, December 13

Psalms 37.1-18, 37.19-42
Isaiah 7.1-9
Luke 22.1-13
2 Thessalonians 2.1-12

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him . . . (Psalm 37.7 NRSV)

The writer Kathleen Norris told a story in one of her books about becoming impatient with her slow Internet connection. She decided to time how long it took to download a document. “It seemed like forever,” she said and then she looked at her watch. It had taken seven seconds. “What’s happened to me that I think seven seconds is a long wait?”

A similar idea appeared this past spring in David Pogue’s review of the newest version of Apple’s iPad. Pogue is the personal technology writer for the New York Times. In his review he compared the newest iPad with the original iPad. He noted that with the old iPad you opened the cover and pressed a switch to turn it on. With the new version you opened the “smart cover” as it is called and immediately the iPad was on. He timed how long it took and found that you saved 1.5 seconds with the new version. “Does 1.5 seconds really matter?” he asked. “You bet it does. Speed is everything. Who has time to wait for your device to turn on?”

I think about those two anecdotes when I reflect on our Advent passage for today. The Biblical text sounds so strange to me in a world of technology where speed is everything. There are two unsettling imperatives in the text: “be still” and “wait patiently”. If we lived in the ancient world of the Bible then being still and waiting patiently might sound normal, but in a high tech world those words sound like craziness.

Perhaps Advent calls on us to introduce some craziness into our life. Advent is about looking forward to the arrival of Jesus but the expectation of his coming is accompanied by Mystery. Who knows when to expect his Advent Presence this year? “So how long do I have to wait? Is there an app for that? How can I put it on my calendar in my iPhone?” Those are ways we normally respond.

But what if we responded in a way that seems crazy? Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Steve Simpler
Professor, School of Religion

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