For my birthday, some friends gave me one of those little hand held gizmos that plays twenty questions and tries to figure out sports and music things I'm thinking about. It's pretty good most of the time. But I've stumped it a couple of times. That may say more about the kinds of music I like and my memory of sports stats than it says about that machine, but it's fun whatever it means. Dusty Springfield is one of the music names that stumped the game. Those of you who are my age (56, as of Sunday!) probably remember when Dusty sang a song called Wishing and Hoping. It was all about love and what it takes to experience it. In her words, "Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying, planning and dreaming...that won't get you into his arms." She goes on to make some pretty specific suggestions about will get you into the arms of the one you've identified as the source of all happiness in your life. (She suggests things like holding and kissing and hugging and things that usually work, at least at first.)
One of the messages of Dusty's song seems to be that wishing and hoping aren't enough. Dreaming is good, but what we're dreaming of usually requires us to do something.
Most of us do some wishing and hoping during this time of year. Whether we're wishing for a special gift, hoping for peace in the world (or maybe at least in our lives), planning for the perfect holiday, or dreaming of a White Christmas (doubtful in my part of the world, thanks be to God!), Dusty's message applies. Wishing and hoping usually sound pretty one-sided. They evoke images like Charlie Brown and the little red-haired girl: he dreams of a relationship with her, and she doesn't know he exists. Of course, he's not about to talk to her and let her know how he feels, either! As long as wishing and hoping are all we do, we'll probably never experience what we're wishing and hoping for.
Wishing and hoping are important during Advent, but our wishes and hopes are not just idle wanderings of our minds to better things. We wish and hope for what God has promised-a Savior who will speak peace, a relationship that will give order, meaning, and purpose to our lives. We can wish and hope, but we can also do things to hasten the coming of those things for which we wait. During Advent, we pray. We light candles. We spend time in Scripture. We draw closer to God confident that God is coming closer to us.
Dusty Springfield's song ends with her goal within in reach, literally. Girls, she promises, if you do all the things I've suggested, you will be his. I know she's got some mop-topped boy from the sixties in mind. But I also know that some of her thinking applies to our wishing and hoping for God, too. God has promised to come to us. And in Jesus Christ, God keeps that promise. We belong to God. And if we satisfy ourselves with the things God's people do, we will be God's. I don't know (and probably don't need to) all the things you're wishing and hoping for this season. but I know (and want you to know) that if peace with God is on the list, your wishing and hoping will amount to something. Thanks be to God!
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