03 Dec Advent: A Lost Concept…
Last Sunday was the first Sunday in the season of Advent. Advent is pretty much a lost concept in our culture. For the church, it is a season of preparation and anticipation. We spend the weeks leading up to Christmas preparing for and anticipating the arrival of the Christ child. So, on Sunday we sang carols like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” Unlike the shopping malls and your favorite radio station, we’ll save “Silent Night” until Christmas Eve.
Of course, the church is not unique in preparing for Christmas; lots of folks are doing that. That’s what all the hustle and bustle is about—the special baking, the travel plans, the shopping, wrapping and giving gifts, the get-togethers and parties. But, the church’s preparations are a little different. The church starts with weeping and lament—hardly activities usually associated with decking the halls and being merry. The church is making ready for the baby to be born in Bethlehem, but as we do so we also are looking beyond the birth, and even beyond the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to a new moment of expectancy as the Day of Christ approaches and God’s kingdom is made fully manifest.
The coming of Advent jolts us out of our ordinary revelries with the invasive news that it is time to think about fresh possibilities for deliverance and human wholeness. Peace is at the heart of the promise born at Advent, but it is difficult to arrive there safely and without becoming vulnerable along the way. It is difficult to set out on the journey without repentance and forgiveness.
At Advent God’s people summon the courage to remember that the holy breaks into the daily. In tiny ways, we can open our broken hearts to the healing grace of God, who opens the way to peace. May that peace come upon us as a healing balm, as a mighty winter river, rushing and gushing through the valleys of our prideful fear and our own self-righteous indignation. Advent is not a season for passive waiting and watching. It is a season of wailing and weeping, of opening up our lives and our souls with active anticipation and renewed hope.
Yours for the Kingdom,
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