One way I like to think about humanity is that we are a cord of three strands: priorities, passions, and practices. Our priorities are our deepest convictions about the good, the right, and the beautiful. Passions are the energies that drive us to act. Practices are what we in fact do. As Christians the gospel of Jesus Christ is the source and goal of these three “p’s.”
Advent is one of the two times in the church year especially designed for reflective examination of our life in light of the gospel. In the Bible “heart” is what NASA would call the “Command Center” of the person. Intellect, emotion, and will collaborate to integrate and choreograph a life of integrity and coherence. Unfortunately, we often find our Command Center dysfunctional with each of its three elements pushing, pulling, and seeking dominance over the others. Paul’s “What I want to do, I don’t; and what I don’t want to do, I do” in Romans 7 is a classic statement of this conflict.
Advent invites us to slow down and take a measured four-week journey of assessment and examination to prepare us to welcome the Christ-child anew.
This Advent I would like to invite you journey with me under the guidance of the wonderful blind musician, Ken Medema. In 1980 Medema released an album titled “Kingdom in the Streets.” It is, in my opinion, a brilliant exposition of the Kingdom of God gospel announced and inaugurated by Jesus Christ. Even over thirty years later, this album with its powerful lyrics, acute imagery, humor and pathos retains its punch. Medema’s songs will serve as our entry into reflection on the priorities, passions, and practices that form the Command Center of our hearts.
“Kingdom in the Streets” has eight songs. As I hear them two of these songs speak primarily to what I called priorities above: “Is There a Place for Dreaming” and the title cut “Kingdom in the Streets.” Two address our passions: “I Saw You” and “Corner-Drug-Store Jesus.” The remaining four point toward our practices: “Those Love Songs,” “Barn Builder,” “By the Waters of Luxury,” “Don’t Tell Me.”
We’ll take two songs a week so we’ll begin with priorities the first week of Advent, passions the second week, and practices the last two weeks leading up to Christmas. I hope you find this a useful aid in your practice of Advent this year.