Hitting the Resume Button Is Not Our Ultimate Goal – Greg Albrecht

I am old enough to remember television sets whose channel selections and volume controls were located solely on the front of the television – thus necessitating someone rising out of a chair (or off the floor in my case) and “changing the channel.”  You know the old televisions – the kind with rabbit ears on the top of the set.  Wiggling and adjusting those rabbit ears was another manual labor task involved in watching the television.    

When my family was finally able to afford a television, it didn’t always work.   Television tubes had a habit of refusing to co-operate.  One of my memories of pre-teenage years involves getting in the car with my step-dad, usually on a Saturday night, and driving to Thrifty Drug Store on the corner of Lake Street and Colorado in Pasadena, California.   It was once again time to test some potentially faulty tubes and maybe, depending on cost, purchase new ones.

Before leaving our apartment, we removed the back of the television and visibly identified vacuum tubes that were not glowing as brightly as others.  The vacuum tubes (20 or 30 of them, as I recall) were arranged inside the television set, on a circuit board, and together, sequentially produced an electronic image on the largest, funnel shaped tube, forming the viewing screen on the front of the television. At least that’s how I remember it.   You really hoped that big funnel shaped tube would not give up the ghost. 

When my dad and I arrived at Thrifty Drug Store we made our way to a free-standing console machine that looked like those video games that later arrived in video arcades when my kids were preteens.    This testing machine had a large panel on the top, with plug in receptacles that accepted the many varieties of vacuum tubes, and a gauge that reported on the level of viability remaining, if any, in the tube being tested.

The moment of truth, for me, was when we discovered a dead tube or tubes and when we marched up to the counter.  Drum roll – the clerk announced how much the new tube would cost.  Thankfully, most of the time we were able to purchase a new tube.  I would still be able to watch Dick Clark on American Bandstand when I got home from school.   

But the channel selector on the front of the television was another matter.  Ours broke and would no longer change channels, so to save money we started to use, at least for a short time, a pair of pliers to change channels.  I know it sounds so primitive – when I recount this story to one or more grandchildren I get the eyeball roll as if I am telling a tall tale, like walking 15 miles in the snow, one way, to school.  They know I did not endure such conditions since my school years were in Texas and California and they assume “changing the channel” is yet another tall tale.      

Remote controls changed all of that, decades ago.  And more recently, so did a device on televisions that enabled a program to be recorded and played back at another time.   Time was, back in the day, if you missed a favorite television program at its scheduled time (remember the old TV Digest?) then you missed it.  No chance to go back and see it, unless it was scheduled for a re-run by the network. 

The DVR function (I may not be technically accurate in my description of this technology) also has a pause button, so that if one wishes to leave the room for any reason during a favorite program or sporting event, one may return, push the “resume” button and go right back to the program, without having missed anything.  What a country!

It seems, in some ways, that the COVID virus/plague has paused life as it was.   Combined with other hotly debated, contested and divisive political issues, it seems like someone somewhere hit the pause button and life as we knew it and loved it stopped.  We would all love to hit that “resume” button but try as we may, the remote isn’t working.  Maybe some new batteries?

We are waiting, perhaps as we have never waited before.  We are hoping for something better and different and improved from the screen of life, which has seemingly stopped in time.  We can hit the replay button and remember the way things used to be, but we cannot hit the “resume” button and get back to “scheduled programming.”

Waiting, as hard as it is, is a Christ-centered theme central to this time of year.   Waiting involves hoping for light in the midst of the shadows or even the darkness.  Waiting involves interruptions.  This is a bit of what the Christian season of Advent is all about – we wait for the coming and the beginning.  Waiting for a Christ follower is far more than just hitting the “resume” button but it is the anticipation of something never before experienced.  

Waiting for Jesus, for Christ-followers, is redemptive hope.  When we wait for Jesus, both in terms of his Second Coming and in our celebration of his first coming, we wait for something far beyond what we have enjoyed in the past.   Waiting for Jesus is not the resumption of a “new normal” – waiting for Jesus is all about something so majestic, grand and wonderful that no eye has seen nor any ear heard nor any heart or mind wrapped itself around such a spectacular and staggering hope.  

We wait for the blessed Hope.  It’s not a resumption of what we once knew, it is a redemption of all that we have seen and known and experienced – we wait for a glorious new beginning.  We wait for Jesus, in all his fullness, not just passively, but actively, in faith.  We “look forward” for the city whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).    

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