For centuries, Christians have practiced a season of waiting and preparation leading up to the celebration of Christmas called Advent. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas Day each year, so the season varies a bit in length. Traditionally, the Christian calendar, which reaches a crescendo in Easter, begins with Advent. Sister Joan Chittister says, “[The Christian Year] does not immediately plunge us into the chaos of the Crucifixion or the giddy confusion of the Resurrection. Instead, the year opens with Advent, the season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious. It trains us to see what is behind the apparent. Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored.”
Come, Lord Jesus.
Do you feel a little disoriented lately? I am writing this on midterm election day, and I cannot help but consider both the mess and the beauty that surrounds and informs our lives each day. We live in the tension of Christ’s first arrival, in a manger in Bethlehem, and Christ’s final coming, which will consummate new creation – the redemption of all things. We wait for this time when the kingdom of God becomes a reality among us, in fullness.
So we begin, on this first Sunday of advent, closer to the end. We look toward the final coming of Christ as we anticipate celebration of the first coming of Christ, and we live in the hopeful expectation of all of the comings of Christ in between. From the prophet Jeremiah:
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” Jer. 33:14-16
The days are surely coming…do you feel it? Can you taste it? My friend, Naomi, says it this way: “To begin at the end of the story reminds us that history is heading somewhere.” And if we live like we actually believe that, it makes a difference, right?
As we enter this season of waiting and preparation, may we turn our hearts to the God who is making all things new, and may we wake up to the places where Christ is breaking in each day.