Have you noticed that group of middle school aged boys who dart around the streets and sidewalks of Langhorne Borough on their skateboards, sometimes with little regard for motorists and pedestrians? Almost heaven. Let me explain.
I use the Daily Office of the Book of Common Prayer as a guide for personal reading of the Scriptures and find it very helpful. During the two-year cycle of the Daily Office you read the New Testament twice, the entire Psalter once every seven weeks, and most of the Old Testament at least once. I would recommend it to any who are looking for a systematic way to read the Bible.
Being rooted in the liturgical tradition, the readings of the Daily Office pay attention to the seasons of the church calendar. At the beginning of Advent we entered the Year 2 cycle of readings and the Psalms and the minor prophets point towards the coming of Christ and his Kingdom. But in the great Advent tradition, they look not only at the First Advent, the incarnation and the stories of the Nativity, but also to the Second Advent, that day when “the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (and he shall reign for ever and ever! – go ahead, click on the link!).
That’s how we get to skateboards in heaven. This morning’s reading from Zechariah is all about it.
The prophet brings God’s word to the people of the Babylonian captivity and promises a return from exile. The promise was partly fulfilled within the lifetime of many who first heard it, but by the time of Mary and Joseph, those who continued to ponder the words knew that there was more to them than what had taken place five centuries earlier. And as we read it today, we know that the prophet still speaks of something wonderful yet to come.
Longing for a return to Jerusalem, the first captives leaped for joy when they heard this promise, Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. (Zechariah 8:4-5)
The captives returned, but the promise has not yet been completely fulfilled. We are still waiting. Waiting for the day when the streets are full of old men and women, staffs in hand, and boys and girls in joyful play.
Someday, in God’s timing, the final act in the drama of creation, fall and redemption will be played out. The kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. Advent calls us to rejoice in the story of the birth in Bethlehem, to hope in the story of an empty tomb some 33 years later, and to anticipate the second and triumphant Advent, that day when the streets will be full old and young alike.
Okay, those skateboarders really do need to be more careful, but next time you see them, give thanks, too, that they are a sign of things to come. Almost heaven.