Advent

Advent.  Such an ignored season, submerged under the flood of Christmas – no, X-mas – excess.  Imagine, expecting people to enter into four weeks of silence, introspection, and contemplation, just when the tree has to go up, gifts have to be shopped for, baking needs to be done, parties and special events enjoyed.  It is a time of rushing and doing, but Advent is meant to be quiet, reposeful waiting.

Waiting.  We aren’t very good at that, here in 21st Century America, are we?  What the heck are we supposed to be doing all this waiting for?

Well, there was the birth of Jesus, the coming of the Messiah.  But that already happened, long ago.  So what are we supposed to really be waiting for now?  Our pastors tell us in their sermons that we are waiting for the Second Coming of the Messiah, when this world, this universe, even, will be wiped out and replaced with a new one.  A lot of people have tried to imagine that new one, and so have I.  But it is really beyond human imagining.  So is the destruction of the old.  So we are waiting for something that we cannot even imagine.  If we read our Bibles, we are assured that the End will be terrible, and the New Beginning will be good.  OK.  But that still leaves me, frankly, tempted to throw myself into feverish buying and wrapping and baking.  It’s all just too far beyond me, and too, too big for me.  And scary.

Here is what I can wrap my mind around, what I do long for, what I am waiting for: answers.  Answers to the questions that torment us, answers that transcend theological formulation and reach into my own bones.  I want to know what I am doing here; and what God is up to.  I want to see all the injustices in the world made right, even though I know that may include my own comeuppance.  I want to drink deeply, slake my thirst for real, live Goodness, even though it could mean exposing what is dark in myself.  I want to know why suffering is, and see it ended.  I want to never doubt again that I am loved, and be freed to love fully.  These are the things I am waiting for.

How about you?

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4 Responses to Advent

  1. Fr. Thomas says:

    Great challenge. Great questions. I began to wonder and think. Thank you, thank you for the nudge. The results — my “meanderings” are posted on my blog because they were too lengthy to post in the form of a “comment.”

    Fr. Thomas

  2. Susan says:

    My goodness! You have really taken off on this, Fr. Thomas! Wonderful “meanderings!” To see them, Everyone Else, just click on “Fr. Thomas’ Blog” above.

    The idea of “weaving” was a puzzle for me at first, but as you continued on it came clearer. It brings to mind the old image of a giant tapestry made up of all our lives, of which we now see only our own thread, and that from the messy back – but our faithful waiting will bring us to the “bigger picture” from the front, when we may view the whole Beauty constructed by God and understand our part in it. I guess that image summarizes what I am waiting for!

  3. Advent.
    We are a people of story, and we act out the great stories of mankind. The acting out is a telling, a retelling of our very essence, our being, who we are. Cultures have done this forever and will always do it. This is poetry and art. This is how we express our greatest longings and desires.

    Man has always longed for God. Man has always desired the light, although finding himself often in the dark. He longs to love, although tainted with the selfishness of Adam’s Fall. As Christians we believe in the story of redemption from that Fall, the answers to suffering and pain. It is this narrative in which we live in our time on earth. The Church structures the story throughout the natural year so that we can act out our salvation story in poetry and song. We can paint the darkness surrounding us with light.

    Susan, you answered your questions in the last paragraph, for what you are longing for is what the end times will be. We are wired for those future times, for heaven, for union with God, a time of justice and peace, of health and happiness, infinite joy and love, and this is why we so long for these things. In the meantime, as part of a fallen world, we have glimpses of heaven and we have true union with God through the sacraments of the Church.

    Advent is indeed waiting, but it is a waiting that is part of the great drama of the Church Year, an intensely satisfying art-form that portrays the reality of man and his life on earth, the created loved by the Creator. Advent in this sense reflects our temporal lives, for it is a time of waiting and preparation for the greatest time of all, eternity. This is what Christmas, the Incarnation, is all about, God becoming flesh, one of us, incarnate, and pulling us into himself, painting our darkness with his light.

  4. Kim Reid says:

    Yes, the Advent Season has been largely bypassed and overrun by the secular and commercial influences, all the must-dos and trappings and cares of the world. The things Jesus warned us not to get distracted by in waiting for His return.

    Part of the reason, I suspect, that we fall into the secular rush during this season is that we are out of practice, on a daily basis, of waiting for Him. Waiting to hear His voice, His direction, to sense His comforting presence. The clamoring of the world for our attention is the squeaky wheel that usually gets the grease. He waits patiently for us to seek Him all the time. How frequently He is ignored.

    I need His advent in my life every day.

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