Entrance to the Los Robles Historic Neighborhood: Built in 1921
Recently, I was driving my 2.10 year old grandson, Benjamin, from his home to mine, traveling along the same route I have taken him 100 times. On this particular day, he asked me:
“What is the name of this street?’
I replied, “Seventh Avenue.”
Benjamin: “Well, I call it ‘Home Street,’ because it leads to our home.”
By “our home,” Benjamin refers to the home of Stephen and me, his maternal grandparents, a place so familiar to him that he considers it to also be “his home.” In a similar way, he considers the home of his paternal grandparents to be “his home.” We are very blessed to live in the same town as they.
Benjamin was correct: Seventh Avenue or “Home Street,” a long, straight road, is the final leg of the short trip from his home to mine. It leads us to the Entrance [photo above] of our small historic neighborhood and then we are finally “home.”
“Out of the mouths of babes:” Young children remind us that behind a familiar name or word lies a greater concept, ideal, or reality.
For instance, the ancient Greeks had a word for “purpose” and that word was “telos.”
“A telos (from the Greek τέλοϛ for “end”, “purpose”, or “goal”) is an end or purpose, in a fairly constrained sense used by philosophers such as Aristotle. It is the root of the term “teleology,” roughly the study of purposiveness, or the study of objects with a view to their aims, purposes, or intentions.” [Wikipedia]
If we are going to be thoughtful and intentional about revisioning, restoring, and reclaiming The Season of Advent, we need to first discover the “telos:” the central purpose. Then, we need to conform to that purpose, by examining ways in which we invest our “heart, soul, mind, and strength” during this Advent Season.
Activity without purpose is merely “spinning our wheels:” This is why individuals experience the frustration of “spinning out of control” during The Season of Advent. Without an end, aim, purpose, reason, intention, goal, or objective, how can we hope to communicate — through our lives, families, and homes — the hope and light of The Season of Advent to the weary and often dark world around us?
[An English Cottage: Not my home, but lovely and welcoming, is it not?]
Our neighborhood stands at the convergence of two main artery roads and a one-way street. At the convergence, is a strange and confusing “Round-A-Bout.” When we first bought our home, seven years ago, I missed the Entrance a few times. I had to circle around, navigate one-way streets, and try the approach again. It was very frustrating: I could clearly see my destination yet I could not enter it. I had to stop my vehicle and study a map in order to find the correct path to my own [new] home!
It is like that with The Season of Advent: Before we approach it, we travelers must choose our path carefully, study our map, compass in hand, and write down the directions.
What is the “telos” of Advent? Am I aligned with that purpose? Am I investing my “heart, soul, strength, and mind” into that one central purpose?
Am I reaching my destination? Or am I merely driving around in circles?
One purpose of The Season of Advent is to form, conform, and transform us in Christian discipleship. To whom or what am I conforming this Advent Season?
A careful, genuine, intentional, and faithful observation of The Season of Advent will lead us “on the way home.”
As a fellow-traveler, I have offered these one dozen “Advent Lessons” to you, as a compass and map, as street lights and signposts, and, finally, as a lamp burning in the window, welcoming you home.