Expectant Love vs. Hyper-Vigilant Fear

Today is the First Sunday in Advent. In today’s Gospel from St. Mark Jesus tells his disciples to be watchful and alert because they do not know “when the Lord of the house is coming.”

Kayla McClurg’s commentary on this passage seems to me a perfect entry into the waiting we experience in Advent. She writes

How differently we experience different kinds of waiting. Awaiting the return of a loved one, or a longed-for new beginning, or a world that works better for everyone, these we can imagine with anticipation and heartfelt longing. Come, Lord Jesus! Quite different they are from the scratching anxiety that comes from dreading what lies ahead—impending surgery, a broken heart, the recognition of failure. Dread sometimes gets attached to Jesus. Fear of ourselves leads us to fear him, and to fear the ‘new day’ he heralds. We keep watch for his return, not because he is our saving grace, the love of our life, but because we dread his disappointment. Hovering in some of us is the fear that it might never be possible to live up to the standard of his love.

The tension between expectant love and hyper-vigilant fear can imprison us in a dark cell of doubt. Oh, we learn to wear a variety of masks, to pretend that all is well with our souls, while the torture squad within stretches us tight between fear and love. Just naming it aloud can be enough to propel us toward liberation. None of us wants to be afraid, chooses it as a life goal, yet we often turn from the bracing wind of our own awakening. We are not alone. Jesus says, the tree bears its fruit, and the watchman keeps watch. We, too, can admit to each other who we are. The fruit of our true selves even yet can emerge. We sleepers can awake. Even our anxieties about Jesus can be brought into the light and catapult us into new life.

Today, with “anticipation and heartfelt longing”, we pray Come, Lord Jesus! Come!

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One thought on “Expectant Love vs. Hyper-Vigilant Fear

  1. Timely and wonderfully expressed, thank you Kayla. . .

    Such a wait to carry – the thought of disappointing Jesus. Where is there foundation for such fear? In Parable, who most disappointed Jesus?

    Most often His occasional disappointment in common folk was in reference to one in fear of answering to another in a higher position. In the case of the ‘prodigal son,’ was example more exception than rule?

    Christianity came alive during a most oppressive time and the tables somewhat turned when the Roman Empire established Christianity as the religion of the state. For what purpose did the change take place? Did Jesus approve or is He often disappointed in the progression?

    Is it Jesus or the ‘weight of message interpretation’ taught – most fear disappointing; and taught from ‘a higher position’? Whose ‘standard’ do we fear living up to?

    Who most disappoints Jesus?

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