Is it true that “we are shaped by the challenges we surmount”? Perhaps. But I’m not sure how helpful that framing is. What about the challenges we don’t “surmount”? We are shaped by them too. We are shaped by challenges in ways which stretch and expand our horizons, and we are also shaped in ways which leave us traumatised, damaged, and forever changed. A theology which cannot account for that is not worth having.
I found this chapter a challenge (though not a traumatising one!). The framing of the parables cited as examples of needing to be ready and prepared is not one which sits well with me. It’s far too close to the “Jesus is coming, look busy!” signs which are supposed to be “jokey” but exhibit a theology of cheap grace and self-sufficiency.
Advent is not a call to be busy, efficient, productive, or prepared. It is a call to attentiveness, to sit gently with the open-endedness of knowing neither the day nor the hour, to allow ourselves to notice God in the joys and the challenges of life without clinging too tightly to either.
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading “Sleepers Wake: Getting Serious About Climate Change” by Nicholas Holtam. For conversations and blog posts from various group members, follow the hashtag on Twitter or join the Facebook group