Advent Week 1: “The Unexpected Journey” – Dr. Jon Kulaga

November 28, 2016

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  – Luke 2:7 (NASB)

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit, Gandalf the wizard invites Bilbo Baggins on an adventure, declaring  “I will send you on this adventure. Very amusing for me, and very good for you – and profitable too, very likely, if you ever get over it.” 

Bilbo’s initial response was “Sorry, I don't want any adventures, thank you. Not today.”

When we first see the word “adventure,” our mind’s eye is immediately drawn to the word “venture.” And so we begin to imagine an adventure as being something like a fun trip or journey.   But a venture is more than a journey.  It is a journey that involves some risk, or peril.  It is not just a trip to the local mall.  Something bad might actually happen.  There is the possibility of failure.  There is risk.

Upon closer examination, we find the word “adventure” actually contains a second word – advent.   And as we know especially this time of year, Advent is the great moment in human history when God literally showed up (with skin on).   In fact, advent actually means “arrival” or “appearance.”

So when the two words are combined – “advent” and “venture” – you get the idea of a journey, filled with risk and peril, with the possibility of failure, unless God shows up.  And shouldn’t that describe our entire Christian walk - a journey undertaken, daring to do things that might fail, all the while looking for God to show up.

This Advent season, we have two choices.  It can be all about tags and tinsel, and boxes and bags.  Or, we can have an ADVENTure – where, like Bilbo Baggins – you find yourself  doing and saying things altogether unexpected.”  Take some risks. Do the unexpected.  Be Jesus – with skin on.  And, like Bilbo and his adventure – you won’t get over it.

- Dr. Jon Kulaga, Provost

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