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Written by Gradye Parsons

Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.

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December 2, 2011

December 2011-Monthly column featuring Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons

High adventure

Advent is here – the days of preparation for the birth of the Christ child. The root word in Latin for Advent is advenire, which means to arrive. Interestingly, it is the same root word for adventure – to venture.

Where is the sense of adventure in this liturgical season?

Unfortunately, it is often found in wondering whether we will receive the gift we want or another sweater, or in hunting for the right present for Aunt Martha or little Jack. We push our way through shopping crowds or drum our fingers while our computer slows to a crawl. And somewhere in the back of our heads is the thought that this seems so wrong.

Adventures should be full of suspense and action -- like a great mystery novel or a thrilling roller coaster ride. But Advent seems to resemble more of a merry-go-round: Here we go again.

How might Advent become more like an adventure for us?

Perhaps we first need to reread the ancient story of angels, Roman emperors, Mary, Joseph, King Herod, shepherds, sages, and the cranky, semi-compassionate innkeeper. These characters are more interesting than the ones we’ll find in most movies or games. Neither Spielberg nor Lukas could not dream up such a crew.

Next, we might focus specifically on the plot. Several points exist along the way where this story could go hopelessly (using that word intentionally) wrong. Harrison Ford’s characters never faced peril and death so many times. Such nail-biting moments!

In most stories, at just the right moment, the hero appears, defeats all of the enemies, and makes everything right again. It happens in this story, too. But this tale of angels and emperors and shepherds and a young couple has a dramatic twist: The hero is a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths instead of a cape.

So who needs anything more? High drama, huge risk, and a surprise ending. Now, that is real adventure!

Read the column in Korean. (PDF)

Tags: advent, adventure, gradye parsons, monthly column, stated clerk