A friend of mine asked me Why do we keep repeating these stories and themes and motifs over and over again in church? I get it already! I initially thought he was being facetious but to my surprise this was a serious question for him.
In Advent we do hear similar accounts of Jesus' life repeated from the four Gospels. We also hear similar themes that run through different stories in Jesus' life as well as themes of readiness and preparation and hope and joy and repentance from the Hebrew readings and Epistle readings assigned in our lectionaries.
I found my friend's question challenging because I come at this from a different perspective. I don't think we can ever hear these stories enough, or have enough reminders about the kingdom God has created for us in sending his son, as a human, to live and teach and be among us: truly with us. I think we forget all too easily what a HUGE deal this is and we need to be constantly reminded. We have been doing this, as humans, for 2000 years, and we still need to recount these mysteries, for mysteries they are, difficult to understand they are. Simple seeming, yet profoundly difficult to decipher.
I responded to my friend that I disagreed with him that he gets it, and asked him to think about whether there were areas in his life that, perhaps, he might not be living into the kingdom's presence among us. This is a life long exploration, this journey we are all on together, making these accounts exciting and new each time we hear these familiar mysteries. I don't know if I will ever be ready or prepared or truly get it, but that doesn't keep me from trying.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.