Darkness. Light. Hope. Watching. Waiting.
This is what we are doing at Advent. We stand in darkness, looking, watching, waiting, hoping. But for what, for whom? We wait for a baby born in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. Yet, somehow we celebrate the presence of God with us here and now.
Our calendar year runs from January to December, our school year from the end of August to May, but our church year begins now, at Advent. It has been described as the “dawn of the Paschal Mystery." Now is the time to consider the Nativity, Incarnation, the Epiphany, the Passion, Resurrection, Ascension all together. This is the time for faithfulness, expectant and joyful watching and waiting for the gift of the Christ-child. A gift of love that connects us all ‒ through hope of the promise of God. This is the realization that God is with us ‒ in the world ‒ here and now. And all that we experience in our church year from this point going forward begins here.
Perhaps as Christians, especially during Christmas, we are drawn into the cultural manifestations of trying to live up to God’s vision. We want to be happy and our culture tells us we need more of this or that to be happy. We want to show those whom we love how much we love them - so we buy them a gift or two or three. We want those whom the world has marginalized to feel less marginalized - we want them to know someone cares for them - so we buy them what they need to feel “normal.” But here’s the catch: What happens when “The Season” goes away?
Advent and the coming of the Christ are about so much more than what our culture tells us it is about. We are preparing for a change that was and is cataclysmic to this world. The breaking in of God to this world those 2,000 some years ago changed our entire history. And when Christ returns, it will be no less earth shattering than His first arrival. How do we translate this “Good News”‒ our joyous celebrating? How do we make this reality a gift to others as it was a gift to us? How do we explain our anticipation, hope, and joy of the story of the Nativity to the world around us?
I invite you to be present in the rush of this season; to slow down, to watch, to wait, to see light from darkness, and be hopeful of the birth the life-changing child and all the wonder and joy that comes with it.
Fr. Will +