Lovers and dreamers

Seeing the new Muppets movie was a stroll down memory lane. All the way to the theater I remembered weekly family events gathered around the television singing together, “It’s time to play the music! It’s time to light the lights!” Crowded on the couch, singing together, we laughed and laughed at the Swedish Chef and the singing chickens, Fozzy Bear and Miss Piggy’s latest drama. 

By Amy Butler

The feelings the movie brought back were warm, and leaving the theater in gathering darkness I couldn’t help thinking to myself: “Some days I wish life were as simple now as it was back when The Muppet Show was the highlight of the week.”

Back when we anticipated the weekly episode of the Muppets, I didn’t know that life is not like a 30-minute plot line tied up with a happy song sung in perfect harmony by swaying puppets. Sometimes I long for the days when that seemed a reasonable construct for life.

Looking backward is tempting, isn’t it? When life is rough, the struggle is long and there’s no end in sight, it makes sense to turn your stroll down memory lane into a permanent relocation. It’s easier to look back to moments of light and joy when what immediately surrounds you looks only like darkness and despair.

I suppose that’s why Advent is here again, calling us out from the past and away from the present into rigorous and determined anticipation of a future that’s different from what we have known. From the darkness of what is right now, we can’t hide in memories of a past long gone or whatever reality currently narrates our lives.

Instead, we’re pulled toward a future we cannot see, a distant hope we tend carefully and meticulously, like a sputtering flame even with just a promise of catching fire.

Why? Because we are people of faith, people who live our lives believing that the past is a platform from which we view the future. And we live in the present aware that it is only here for a season, a workshop of opportunity to create with God what we desperately hope for. 

In the end, it’s really the future that calls us to action and purpose. It is hope for something different that pulls us out into the darkness searching for that little light we’re sure is there, somewhere.

I couldn’t help joining the other adults in the theater the other night, sighing with memories and singing along with Kermit and Miss Piggy to “The Rainbow Connection.” But when the movie was over and we headed home, it seemed better to hold close the image of the first Advent candle. We light it to signify hope, lighting the way from the past through the present to the future. And in faith we walk with courage toward the future God has planned for all of us. 

The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.