Dear Redeemer Family:
Advent, preachers love Advent. Preparations for Christmas often stir up a combination of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement. The fact that the days are becoming colder and darker in many places brings other connections. Yet, Advent is the season that most honestly names and acknowledges our human condition of longing, waiting, and restlessness. Advent is usually seen in relation to Christmas, and though it is the time of year when listeners face the most distractions due to the many things on their minds and hearts, preachers have the unique role of being spiritual guides, providing time and space for reflection on key spiritual themes.
The lessons of the season can easily lead us into two traps: one in the past and one in the future. The prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures can cause us to pretend that we are waiting for Jesus to be born as he was two thousand years ago. Some of the apocalyptic lessons can propel us into a distant future, wondering if and when Christ will come again to bring justice and peace to our earth. Though in many ways we are still waiting for the Messiah to come (again), and we need to have a healthy trust in God’s promised future, we are actually invited to wake up to Christ’s presence among us here and now. In the Sunday worship services, we learn to recognize the Lord’s coming week after week, but from there we go to behold anew this Advent coming in the events of everyday life – whether in the news or in our personal circumstances; whether frightening, confusing or even mundane.
The human theme of longing resonates with all of us to some extent. We are always wishing we could delay aging, go back to a certain time in our lives and relive it, or live in an unrealistic ideal situation. In most cases, we fail to embrace fully the present and what is.
Advent puts before us this great mystery: we wait for what we already have. The message of the Gospel serves as a spiritual director, in a sense, inviting hearers to behold anew Christ coming again and again, Sunday after Sunday, day after day, not only in Word and meal, but in the sacramentality of everyday life, day after every single day yet to come. He who was, who is, who is yet to come!
In Christ, Pastor Rose