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Learning to Focus on What's Important during Advent

Photo by Flickr user chrisdlugosz

[Editors' note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from members of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. The lectionary readings for this post are Isaiah 28:9-22; John 3: 9-21; Hebrews 2: 1-9. Keep reading the Bread Blog for more Advent reflections each day.]

“Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”  (Hebrews 2:1)

When I was growing up, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) had not been identified. Those who were affected by ADD before it was a recognized diagnosis coped by using strategies and supports to focus and concentrate … or they didn’t. I’m sure they heard, “Pay attention!” many times a day as they struggled to focus on everyday tasks. 

Even for students (and adults) who don’t have ADD, paying attention can be difficult! Today, there are more and more things clamoring for our attention: our phones, the television, the radio, our partner, our child, a boss, a friend, a hobby, our health and fitness, the latest book, the Internet, and, yes, even church.  To whom should we listen?  Where should we focus?  To what areas should we give our limited time and resources?  

The answer is, of course, D: all of the above.  We take care of the urgent and then the pleasurable, and sometimes the important stuff can just drift away from lack of attention.

In the busyness of Advent, taking the time to read a devotional might feel like one more thing to check off the day’s list, but today’s passage from John reveals an amazing message from Jesus, the teacher.  In his lesson for Nicodemus, Jesus tells us something that we have read many times and even memorized:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). What an astounding declaration! Yet it is so familiar to us as to almost go unnoticed. But pay attention!

During Advent, as we wait for the coming of Jesus, let us focus on the spiritually important things: regular services that help us center every week; special services that remind us this is an extraordinary time; beautiful music and familiar scriptures that bring us back to focus and help us to pay attention!

Prayer: Lord, as we wait for Jesus during this extraordinary time, we ask for help in paying attention to what is truly important.  Forgive us when we give way to the busyness of our lives and drift away from your word.  Thank you for your love and the forgiveness we can claim through your Son.  Amen.

Kris Golden is a member at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Visit their website at www.nyapc.org.


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