Because of the expectant hope and palpable anticipation for the dawning, coming, advent of a new day, Advent is fast becoming one of my favorite times of the year. It is the season where we lean forward to the edge of our seats or are lifted to the balls of our feet with the excitement of heightened expectation.
The creators of the liturgical year were wise when they set Advent as the beginning of the church year. For now the church year begins with the promise of the coming Messiah, with impossible pregnancies for Elizabeth and Mary, the miraculous identity of who these babies will become, and the sense of anticipation that comes, bringing with it the sheer marvel of that night when not only a star shines forth anew, shepherds quake, and a holy host of heralding angels sing, but the Savior is born to us– thus birthing a real, divine hope for the whole human race. Forever.
Yes, Advent is a season of preparation, too, but not so much for us to clean our houses, bake the holiday treats, or even deck the halls. Advent is more freeing than that, for its message is neither up to us nor dependent upon our preparations (Thanks be to God). Instead the message of Advent is God’s working in us that which we cannot accomplish on our own. God is proclaiming the message of the coming (advent) of the Christ-child. God is performing the advent of God’s salvation breaking in. God is injecting God’s message of divine love and forgiveness into our daily, mundane, everyday lives; both now and also not yet. We sum that up with a single word: soon. The proclamation “Christ is coming soon” recognizes that Christ has already come and Christ shall come again; which makes us lean forward, just a bit, with hope-filled anticipation and expectation as we together wonder “when?” And we find ourselves proclaiming the mantra, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
The simplicity of Advent’s message “Christ is coming soon” when juxtaposed against the profundity of that truth and the implications thereof is for me … an awe-inspiring mystery filling me with both warm fuzzies and a divine hope. Therein lies the sense of joyful expectation, wonder and hope that is for me the season of Advent. And I hope it is for you as well. May God grant the joy of expectant hope to us through the One whose coming is certain and whose day draws near, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.