Advent — Apres le Deluge, Vive le Roi!

Before Thanksgiving dinner, my friend Lynn decided to take a walk. The rain had stopped. For about five minutes, a rainbow was visible ahead of him. Lynn pointed it out to neighbors he met on the road. Since all were walking toward him, the rainbow was hidden behind them. Its beauty was not visible — unless they turned around to look.

I asked permission to share Lynn’s story. It reminds me of a character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the “man with a muckrake,” who “could look no way but downwards, with a muckrake in his hand. There stood also one over his head, with a celestial crown in his hand, and proffered to give him that crown for his muckrake; but the man did neither look up nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and the dust of the floor.”

As interpreted by Bunyan, “earthly things, when they are with power upon men's minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.”

In a 1906 speech, President Theodore Roosevelt coined the term “muckraker” to refer to journalists who “dig deep for facts” — to uncover scandals. In this 2020 holiday season, we struggle to move past political muckraking and mudslinging. Toxic news cycles drown out any Good News. Filth clings to our souls, and demands our constant attention.

Whether we lower our eyes or turn our backs, we are covered with grime. We miss the crown above us. God’s rainbow of promise is visible from the road — but only if we reverse our direction.

Jesus’ followers are reminded: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

As Eugene Peterson renders this: “Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up … be alert to what is going on around Christ … where the action is.”

Advent is the season to anticipate God’s promised future. Let’s not forget the “rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircling the throne.” (Revelation 4:3) Lift up your heads. Long live the King!