by Mark Kurowski

The Reflection for this week focuses on loss, restoration and longing for something from your current situation.  If you have ever felt any of these things, then this reflection is for you. #Loss #Grief #Love #Preparing #GreatChristianPreaching #SevenPounds #WillSmith #Advent

For listener supported, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   11/30/2014 The 1st   Sunday of Advent.

 Please pause this audio and read Mark 13:24-31.

          In the movie, Seven Pounds, Ben, the main character, is so consumed by work, that when he receives a text while driving, he cannot resist looking at it. When he does, he loses control of his car, crosses the center line, hits an oncoming car and kills seven people. Consumed by grief, self-hatred and a deep longing, a severe longing to make things right, he decides to kill himself in a way that will allow his body parts to be used to improve the lives or save the lives of seven people.

          The movie is powerful. It is amazing in how it captures how a longing that burns, hurts, stings and stays within us can do so for a very long time. Ben, played masterfully by Will Smith, shows the depths of longing to which a human being can go. The one catch is that he falls in love with the woman to whom he has decided to give his heart. Now, there is a longing to love the one he is with.

          I cannot, in any way, condone the idea of suicide. I want to be clear about that. I do not condone suicide. We all face our fair share of hardships in life. Some of us face hardships that I cannot even begin to understand how we get out of bed, breathe and start the new day.

          I, also, can understand that now that the consumer industrial complex has christened this the “Christmas buying season,” that it could seem the craziest thing for me to be talking about a movie like this. I do know that this audio is being published on Black Friday. We are supposed to have our bellies and the debt limit on our credit cards full, right? Happy, happy, happy!

          Yet, for those who heard this message nearly 2,000 years ago, written down by Mark, they were in a period of unrest in Roman history. The Temple had been destroyed to subjugate the Jews who lived in Palestine. Emperor Caligula, a pagan who hated Jews and Christians alike was beginning what would be a string of 14 persecutions of the Christians by the year 315 A.D. In the midst of all this pressure were the coming of false prophets who lifted themselves up as the Second Coming of Christ. The message to these Christians from the Gospel writer, Mark, is this: relief is on the way. God has not forgotten you. The longing you have for relief is just around the corner.

          I have a very good friend who often says to me, “Now, I am not going to kill myself and life really isn’t this bad, but I wish Jesus would just come now.” All I can say is, “Amen to that.” Sometimes life just sucks for the honest person, the good person, the kind person and the Christian. When Isaiah says in the reading for today,

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence…to make your presence known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

I am thinking that can happen none too soon. With all the deceit in the workplace, games played by bosses, family members, church people, neighbors, politicians, multinational corporations, and just about any human enterprise, it is just crazy. I seriously don’t know how we humans can live with ourselves!

          I love the idea that the Lord is going to descend from Heaven after all this trouble and toil. I cannot wait for him to collect his elect from the four corners of the earth there. Of course, I hope that I am one of them. I cannot wait to see the poor who have been neglected in the slums throughout the world there. I cannot wait to see the women caught in human trafficking who cry every night to have relief there. I cannot wait to see the abused children and spouses who are finally rescued from their despair there. I cannot wait to see the tired, hungry, poor, those in prison, those sick and those of us who are all of these things in ways we never anticipated.

          Sometimes, I am just tired of having to work so hard at life. What about you? Sometimes, I am poor of spirit and cannot think about another moment, let alone another day. What about you? Sometimes, I feel like a prisoner of my past. What about you? Sometimes, I feel like I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Most of all, I am hungry for a day when I can be refreshed every day. I am hungry for when being good, kind, just and loving is rewarded tangibly in this place and not in heaven far away. I am hungry. I am hungry for a time when I can look the Lord in the face and know that I am with the One who saved my soul.

          I am longing. I am longing with a constant thought about what it will be like to have the Lord in front of me. I am longing for when crying will be no more. I am longing for when mourning will be no more. I am longing to love Jesus with the same longing that Ben in the movie Seven Pounds has to make his past right—a longing that will do everything possible, even losing my own life. That is the longing that we need to have for the Lord.

          It is a longing that can do without every present we bought on Black Friday. It is a longing that can do without the best office. It is a longing that can do without the thing we think we cannot live without. It is a longing that wants to do everything we can to be ready for the coming of the Lord. How do we get ready for the Lord with the longing of Ben?

          We do it by cleaning the inside of our spiritual house as much as we clean our house for guests at Christmas. We prepare our soul as much as we spend time picking out the tree and hanging all the decorations this weekend. We prepare by reading our Bible for five minutes at lunch everyday—right at work. We prepare by praying every morning for someone who has hurt us badly. We prepare by giving the gift of forgiveness to those who need it the most and deserve it the least. (Forgiveness is an action and not an emotion, by the way). We prepare in the midst of our laundry list of items for which we are praying, our multitude of words in prayer, and we stop. We listen for the Lord. We breathe in the Holy Spirit into every fiber of our beings and we just enjoy Him. We enjoy God.

          Long for him. Want him. Enjoy him until he comes again. Amen.

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