ADVENT

Advent is an exciting, magical time of the year. My grandson keeps checking in with me about the status of my Christmas shopping. Together we’ve talked about and researched (even read reviews about) his desired gift. I took him to Mastermind Toys a few months back just to look and see what was there. I made it clear before we arrived that we were going specifically to look and learn without the pressure of needing to make a decision of what to buy. He enjoyed it a lot! It helped him refine his wishes.  What he really wanted immediately has faded into the background as he’s had time to think about and dream about (and research with Grammy) all the options available. And now, with four more weeks of wondering and waiting his anticipation is certainly building. Waiting is hard for him. And yet wait he must.

We must all wait. Waiting is a good and necessary practice. It strengthens character and deepens our capacity to pay attention and become aware. If we do not wait, we can be too quickly and too simply satisfied. If we do not allow ourselves to really long for something, we may too easily settle for what will not, in the end, truly satisfy. If we don’t take time to prepare ourselves to receive, we may miss the gift that is coming. We may be so focused on what we think we want that we miss receiving what it is that we are deeply longing for. For example, we might be so intent on seeing a triumphant king arrive that we miss hearing and noticing the wee baby lying in the animal’s stall or we fail to see Christ already among us in the hungry and the homeless.

Waiting is not always positive nor is it always something to be encouraged. Sometimes waiting is thrust upon us and we would prefer it to end. Waiting for suffering to end, waiting to become pregnant, waiting for a life partner, waiting for a job, waiting for death to come, waiting for abuse to stop, waiting for depression to lift, waiting for test results to come back, waiting for our next meal…

It is perhaps in this kind of difficult waiting that we most need to remember that Advent leads up to Christmas. Advent signals the coming of the Christ child. Advent reminds us that the waiting will not be forever.

Wait – Anticipate – Prepare. These are the adjectives of Advent.

The Western Christian Church year, beginning with Advent, gives us the four week opportunity to prepare and wait for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The preparing and waiting help us anticipate the many ways Christ breaks into our world – past, present and future. We prepare for the celebration of God’s first coming into the world – the Incarnation, in-flesh-ment, when God in human form in Jesus entered our history, we watch for the many ways that he comes to us now, and we anticipate his future coming at the end of time.

Advent, which means coming, is a time of tension between the already and the not yet. At the same time we celebrate what has happened, what is happening and what is yet to happen. The first advent or coming of God in history points to the last. Thus, as Church, during these 4 weeks, we pray COME LORD JESUS COME. It is a season of paradox.

In GBC we celebrate Advent with the themes HOPE – PEACE – JOY – LOVE.

Going into Advent it is vital that we remember God’s good faithfulness to us in the past, that we look for and anticipate knowing God in new ways today, and that we long for the time when we will know God fully.

There are many reasons why, in 2018 we need to remember, look for and long for God. In our world we know persistent poverty, increasing obesity and over-consumption, the marginalizing of out-groups, raging violence, governments in desperate need of renewal and reform, migrants and refugees searching for a place to call home, too many lives debilitated by anxiety and depression and our planet's lingering woes.

We as Church need to embody HOPE – PEACE – JOY – LOVE; we need to be relevant and effective as we live out our faith in the world. We need to live HOPE, actively trusting that Christ’s reign on earth is and will continue to make all things new. We need to live PEACE so as to dismantle complacency and selfish apathy. We need to live JOY and invite others to let go of their endless search for happiness. We need to live LOVE, first giving ourselves to it and then truly extending it to everyone around us.

And so, now in Advent, we sing and pray…
Come thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart    -- Charles Wesley

1 Comment


Dale Murphy - December 4th, 2018 at 8:52am

Oh for an excuse to visit a toy store ... I still don't like waiting, but I agree it is an important part of this season (and many others).

Thanks for the words.