Second Week of Advent: More on yearning, disappointment, and…peace.

For the first week of Advent, which is about hope, I wrote about God’s Coordinates. I explored the place in our lives of deepest yearning and disappointment and suggested that this is the place where you will meet God. If you dare to enter.

This week is the second week of Advent, and it’s about Peace. I want to continue to explore God’s coordinates and the topic of peace… Here it goes.

So, you’ve arrived. At the coordinates… the geolocation of your deepest yearning and disappointment. And you didn’t have to travel anywhere to get there. You just had to resist the temptation to flee to some attachment and take the required moments to let reality set in. This opened the door to the room in your heart that you’ve worked your whole life to avoid. And its agony as you realize that your yearning is clouded with disappointment and an emptiness that all your efforts could ultimately never heal. It’s enough to make you bang your head against the wall, because even if you have a life of some meaning and fulfillment, it’s never enough.

And what exactly is your yearning? Chances are, whatever it is, you’ve dressed it up in a multitude of ways throughout the course of your life. But in its essence, your yearning is a wholeness of life that is unclouded by life’s final solution, death. And what is the disappointment you feel? It is the culmination of your personal incompleteness, the pain of all the trauma you bear in life, and ultimately death.

The truth of the matter is that every ambition, every project, every “love” you’ve committed your heart to, and every escape you’ve ever planned is left wanting. Wanting… that is the feeling, isn’t it? You’re aware that you continue to want something and all of your years have amounted to a comedy of looking for love in all the wrong places. You’ve tried to lift off from this place of despair in an effort to gain something, anything, to ease your wanting. You’ve searched everywhere to fill the void that can only be filled by crossing the threshold of the door you desperately avoid going through… That door in your heart where the truth lies. It’s a room filled with yearning and disappointment.

In a strange way, this place of pain is the genesis of your salvation. You’re here and it’s agony. But I implore you to be present in the pain of yearning and disappointment. Your impulse is to get up and lift off from this location and do everything you can to resist this low place. But hold on.

I am re-reading Kester Brewin’s lovely book, Getting High: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the Dream of Flight. It’s so good… even better the second time. In it he traverses all the ways humankind have sought to lift of for flight. Through the dreams of flight in the renaissance, to the moon landing, the LSD movement, religious ecstasy, and technology. All of us, born flightless seek to lift off from our earthly, mortal selves, somehow believing if we can get high, we will solve our problems. Like Icarus we reach for the sun with prosthetic wings yearning for some illusive fullness.

This connects deeply with the heart of where I am going with this topic of God’s coordinates. Hint: they not “up there”, but down here, on the ground, in the space between yearning and disappoint.

There is a term in technology called “product truth”. It is the raw reality of what a given software can actually do. And there is always some distance between the poetry of marketers and the reality of the code. What I am advocating for here is immersion in our DNA, our human product truth. This requires getting close to our incomplete flesh. I am suggesting that we meet God by being present with the earthly and incomplete truth of our being. And that truth is on the ground, in the flesh and in the centre of your human experience. The pain comes as the veneer of all that you project your life to be falls away. This hurts. It is the naked truth.

The second week of Advent is about peace… a lasting peace that goes beyond the absence of war. It’s a peace that embodies flourishing of the spirit. God is known as the prince of peace. And one of the names for God is Emanuel. It means, “God with us”.

In the midst of your place of yearning and disappoint, you are on the precipice of a great realization. That God is with you and there is light on the horizon after your dark night…even if a physical death is immanent. God is found in the midst of your trial and this is good news. That the one who made you loves you and wants to give you peace through himself in the midst of your despair. The promise is not one of ideal circumstances and a life without trial, but one of future resurrection and the daily presence of God with you in this life. This equates to a life free from the pain of “wanting” even if circumstances are not ideal… and this is a blessing as you will be more present in each moment to the eternal reality of love in this life.

You, we , are all meant to be full of eternal spirit and our sadness stems from our inability to grasp this. Take heart… there is a reason why Jesus called the poor in spirit blessed. They are on the doorstep of realizing his peace.

During Advent we continue to wait for the light of the world to be born. In the middle of a frazzled world and a broken life, know that your peace is on the horizon. Just wait for it.

God’s Coordinates

It’s always an interesting time to be alive. Today I wandered into Church feeling the heaviness of a new Coronavirus variant, sick friends, more flooding in SW BC, economic stress, political division, increasing hostility, a lack of societal trust, and a general uncertainty about how we will cope with all of the above.

Under these conditions we sang the following words from an old hymn as a lone candle was lit in the midst of our collective anxiety:

Hope is a star that shines in the night,
leading us on till the morning is bright.

It is the first week of Advent, that time where the expectation for the anointed one to appear at Christmas begins to thicken. The first week is about hope… hope for the renewal and healing of all things.

I’ve been wondering about where in our lives we can meet this hope. I’m convinced that it’s found at the intersection of our deepest yearning and deepest disappointment.

I should explain….

I believe this intersection to be the coordinates of God’s unique presence in our lives. The geolocation of our salvation. It’s is a specific place that magnified the full intensity of our human experience. If we can bear to sit in the spot of our deepest yearning, while realizing that we will never fully be satisfied or whole while in human skin, we will find God. If we wait with the yearning and disappointment of it all we will come face to face with our truth and therefore come face to face with God.

Waiting is a big thing. We live in a world that doesn’t want to wait. We want relief from this personal anguish and we want it now. We find it in all sorts of ways. The bible calls these things idols. If we dare to sit in the middle of this intersection for some time, we will learn how we all, like addicts, are looking for a fix that will take the burden of life away. We race to get relief from our reality in all sorts of ways, but we will not realize true hope until we wait… right here… right now… at the place of our deepest longing and disappointment. The irony is that we do not need to travel to get to this intersection. it is here, right now. We just need to wait.

If we enter this intersection and resist every impulse to move away from the anguish that is sure to come, we will finally recognize that God is actually there with us offering healing balm for our empty souls. God is here now suffering with us and healing us.

I need to give a warning.

Everyone is in different places, if we by chance are not overwhelmed by the signs of the times above, just meditate on your own mortality for a moment. We all age and our bodies slowly or suddenly break down. We eventually die. Not one of us has the ability to avoid the earth that we will eventually return to.

But we can place our hope into the hands of the one that returned from the very earth that we spend our lives avoiding. Jesus conquered death and this victory extends to those who hope in him!

This is why we light a single candle in a dark world at the beginning of Advent. It is hope in the one who defeated the grave. It represents the promise of a story centuries old that prophets foretold… Of a child coming to reverse the systems of death and restore the external connection to the one that created us. The way things were meant to be.

The cross is an interesting symbol. There are two beams that intersect. The vertical can symbolize our yearning for heaven and the horizontal, the disappointment of our human experience. We can remember that Jesus embraced these coordinates with his incarnation. If we dare to enter this intersection in our own lives, we will surely find Him there waiting with our salvation in hand.

Two Christmas Tides


It's the second week of advent and Christmas is approaching. This is good. For the light of the world…. the gift that transcends all material gifts… the one that does not decay, but gives and sustains life, is coming. This is good news. For all people.

Two tides meet in the vortex of our lives this time of year. The worldly tide of “the season”, sees Christmas as an opportunity for profit and accumulation of worldly possessions. It advances on the shorelines of our lives with a force that leaves us washed out and less than we were before. It's a destructive tide with a wave-upon-wave assault that takes no prisoners and feeds us a dream that does not last or exist in any real sense. This worldly tide is marked by decay and it forces upon us all sorts of wants and “alleged” needs that promise fulfillment but deliver emptiness of soul. This tide suggests that we can fill the God shaped longing within us with material things. The great tragedy for humans is that we cannot see the emptiness of this tide. But there is hope in the other tide.

The other tide is one not of this world….literally.

The other tide, like light, exposes the tide of “the season” for what it is: empty and hollow. This other tide washes us clean from the allure of the empty tide and gives us a new hope. This tide has the power to turn us toward a dream of real fulfillment. This tide brings the gift of God himself along with the full force of his love. It offers to envelop us into a new adventure and it will make you tremble in fear until you realize the transformative goodness the current brings. This tide promises to reorient your shoreline in the best possible way with its sheer power. It is so powerful that it comes wrapped in the frailty of human skin, as a baby, vulnerable and needy and above all, ultimately subversive.

If you've ever been on a boat that has a keel deep in the water, you will know the danger of riding on the ridge of two powerful tides. The currents collide and cause whirlpools and uncontrollable situations for the ship. It can bring you down.

Maybe there is a lesson here for us as we find ourselves met by two tides this Christmas? Perhaps it's best that we stick to the one that offers us more than the hollow consumerism that leaves us empty.


My favourite telling of the Christmas story….

This is my favourite Christmas Story video. The kids are adorable and the message is clear and full of wonder. As we approach Christmas, eagerly waiting for the coming of the King, let’s remember the story and how it serves as the genesis for transformation in us and through us.