Advent: Prepare as We Rejoice
NOVEMBER 29, 2021
Advent is the season in the Church’s year that turns our attention to the coming of Christ: the first one and the second one.
More than 2,000 years ago he came into the world to save sinners like you and me – to preach and teach, to heal, to die on the cross, and to walk away from the empty tomb. He ascended into heaven and promised to be present with us until he comes again in glory. Christmas is the pinprick of light in the darkness. The second Coming is life with no shadow. In Advent, we prepare as we rejoice.
The poet T. S. Eliot called the birth of Jesus the “still point of the turning world.” It is the hinge on which the door of history hangs. And so our preparation for Christmas each year is partly about sharing the hopes and expectations of Israel in the coming of the Messiah to save the world. Advent demands space for the stillness that is found in the manger in Bethlehem. Quite a challenge amid the shopping and parties piled on top of life’s normal anxieties!
Jesus tells us in Luke’s Gospel: “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.” “That day” is the day when Jesus returns to make things right. Advent poses to each of us a necessary question: What kind of experience will “that day” be like for you? Not only sinful paths of decadence, but even the hum-drum of ordinary existence could result in our being unprepared to receive the greatest present ever given. Is our gaze fixed down or up? Are we ready to receive God’s free gift of grace, or are we seeking our own rewards?
“Prepare the way of the Lord,” John the Baptist reminds us. Christ’s return is the day of divine justice that Mary prays for when she accepts her call to do God’s will. Humble, faithful people like her will be seen for what they are: Full of grace. The mighty ones in this life will be revealed as frauds. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” Mary sings. No matter how deep a pit we find ourselves in, no matter how vile the persecution, no matter how desperate our debt, loneliness, or illness, we can be saved by the light which has dawned upon us. The choice is ours. Will we, like Mary, say yes?
Advent reminds us that we wait for the time when Christ will be “all in all.” We look for life in a one-dimensional universe, where the divisions between God’s reality and ours, God’s righteousness and our wretchedness, God’s perfection and our brokenness, will cease forever. And so we pray, “O Come, O come Emmanuel!”
Have a blessed Advent, everyone!
Read More from Andrew Petiprin Here.