Being Taken on an Adventure
adventure (n.) early 13c., auenture “that which happens by chance, fortune, luck,” from O.Fr. aventure (11c.) “chance, accident, occurrence, event, happening,” from L. adventura (res) “(a thing) about to happen,” from adventurus, future participle of advenire “to come to, reach, arrive at,” from ad- “to” (see ad-) + venire “to come” (see venue). Meaning developed through “risk/danger” (a trial of one’s chances) and “perilous undertaking” (early 14c.) and thence to “a novel or exciting incident” (1560s). The -d- was restored 15c.-16c. Venture is a 15c. variant. As a verb, c.1300, “to risk the loss of;” early 14c. “to take a chance.”
“important arrival,” 1742, an extended sense of Advent “season before Christmas” (O.E.), from L. adventus “a coming, approach, arrival,” from pp. stem of advenire”arrive, come to,” from ad- “to” (see ad-) + venire “to come” (see venue). Applied in Church Latin to the coming of the Savior, either the first or the anticipated second, hence Adventist, a name applied to millenarian sects, esp. the Millerites (U.S., 1843). In English, also sometimes extended to the Pentecost.
Sometimes words are gifts without wrapping paper.
I am 41 years old, and never once before early Sunday morning (the first day of Advent) considered the obvious relationship between the words “Advent” and “Adventure.”
But there it is: anticipating the arrival of something means that the effect of the arrival is not yet clear. It’s risky to wait and yearn, even for something for which you have worked to bring about!
Clearly, for example, marriage, parenthood, a new job, a move, these rarely play out like one anticipates.
[anticipate 1530s, “to cause to happen sooner,” from L. anticipatus, pp. of anticipare “take (care of) ahead of time,” lit. “taking into possession beforehand,” from ante “before” (see ante) + capere “to take” (see capable). Later “to be aware of (something) coming at a future time” (1640s). Used in the sense of “expect, look forward to” since 1749, but anticipate has an element of “prepare for, forestall” that should prevent its being used as a synonym for expect.]
Advent often gets overlooked, hardly even relegated the respect of a hoop through which we have to go on our way to get to Christmas.
I wish that were not so.
In our family, less as a protest against that pull and more as an intentional embrace of Advent, we wait and wait to “deck our halls” with Christmas, but begin now by discovering our winter adornments, and our Advent calendars, and our Advent wreath.
Advent is a risky season, a period of time in the liturgical year where the biblical texts are risky, in the adventurous sense of above.
Maybe that’s why we avoid Advent?
That we prefer the comfort that the image of a gentle baby gives us?
It makes us think of gurgles and coos (and only more rarely the occasional revelation that Jesus must ahve also needed his divine derriere cleaned of righteous poop).
Aside from said dirty diapers, there’s not much that is threatening about a baby.
But last Sunday’s text from Matthew 24 (below taken from oremus.org) is threatening:
36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
So I have a wonderful pastor, who, astonishingly, is also a wonderful friend, and has been for 14 years.
Lori Hope preached on this text this last Sunday, and she talked about how as a young child this passage and ones like it inspired such fear, such threat, in her that she worried worried worried that she would come home and find an empty house, left alone (or left behind, as the contemporary references would have it) because her family was taken away, and she was left.
But poking around at the Greek, she discovered that the Greek word for “take” is the same one used, for example, when Matthew described Jesus “taking” another disciple along the way.
That is to say that “taking” can mean not “leaving behind” but “inviting with.”
Imagine, then, that the one in the field and the one grinding the meal were “brought along” in Jesus’ ministry of service, of forgiveness, of healing, of boundary-crossing, of mercy and grace.
Whatever else you can say about such a life, a life as a disciple of Jesus, it is filled with risk, with danger, and with adventure.
This morning I had the serendipitous exchange with a friend of mine, a woman with great depth and humor and wisdom. In our brief moments together, we exchanged tales of our weekend, I told her about Lori’s fantastic sermon, she told me of her “Cyber Monday.” She granted that she got a lot of her shopping done, but at the end of the day, a sense of depletion rather than accomplishment came over her.
Later, she emailed me to say, “I like what you said about ‘taken’ (from the sermon)….thank you because it was exactly what I needed to hear. I felt ‘taken’ yesterday by consumerism, and it left me with feelings of dis-ease. What (and who) we are ‘taken’ with brings about very different outcomes/focus.”
And it is true.
We can be “taken in” by a variety of things as well as people. And depending on what is coming to take us, we will have varying sorts of adventures.
Advent is a time to consider what takes us on which adventures, it seems to me.
And once there is a child in one’s life, the opportunity to reflect on such things are few.
So to you Christians reading these words, I invite you to make good use of Advent before the child arrives!
Because then the adventure begins.