Watching for signs

Daily Reading for November 28 • The First Sunday of Advent

When we watch, we’re watching for signs. Signs are things we watch for because they are the leading edge of a larger reality we await. We may await recovery, rescue, or reconciliation. We may await fulfillment, recognition, or love. We long for so many things. We need signs that they are on the way, or even already present. . . .

God was up to something in Jesus. What Jesus said God was up to was the kingdom of God. In his living and teaching, Jesus pointed to the reign of God in justice, compassion, reconciliation. Jesus’ coming and his preaching of God’s reign signified, or signed, that God cherishes human history. Our story is a prime location for God’s presence and action—not the only location, but a prime location.

God’s up to something now. What’s God up to? That’s where signs come in. “Keep awake!” “Watch!” For what? Signs of the kingdom, signs of what God is up to! Where? Right here in the world where God has set up shop!

Expecting, not waiting, is the keynote of this season. We wait in ticket lines and doctors’ offices as we idly thumb the magazines. But when the pitcher winds up or the interviewer asks the jaw-dropping question—then we’re watching, eager for signs of what will happen next. What if we were to take the quality of our watching at a sporting event, or at a movie, or in a delicate conversation, and turn that attention on our life direction, or the life of our family, or the life of our community? And ask: What’s God up to? . . . That’s the key question, because being on mission means joining what God is up to in the world. Discerning what God is up to means watching for signs of God’s presence and action. Where in our particular place do we see signs of the reign of God pushing up through the debris of people’s confusion and wrangling? Where do we see signs of God reconciling? God healing? God renewing?

From Alert for Signs: Seeing and Praying through Advent by Titus Presler (Cincinnati: Forward Movement, 2007).

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