Advent Longing and Advent Promise

Advent Longing and Advent Promise

by the Rev. Lucretia Jevne, a Priest in Partnership at St. Brigid's in Rio Vista

As T. S. Eliot writes, “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past.” And further on, he writes, “…in my end is my beginning.”

This is Advent. The beginning of the church year, and the turning point in time when all that was, and is, and is to come is present in this time of ending and beginning. Advent is a time of dreaming, dreaming as God dreams that peace and fruitfulness and love will rule our world. It is a time of darkness that reminds us of how much we need light and calls us to look for that light and to dream of becoming that light.

But where do we look, and how do we find the future in the midst of Christmas jingles, and shopping frenzies, and eating too much, and becoming frazzled and short tempered and harried? Instead of turning in the still point around time, we revolve around our own anxiety and frenzy. And we miss the message of Advent.

Advent began with Isaiah's message of what God dreams. That all nations and people will learn from God, who is the final judge and arbitrator. That swords shall become plowshares and spears become pruning hooks, and nation shall not lift up sword against nation. A dream that feels even further from reality in our world today. This is what God envisions for the world; for those people in ancient Israel and for us today.

As we read from the prophets this fall, I was struck once again by how timely God's messages are for us. There is a possibility of a treaty meant to reduce and contain nuclear weapons in Iran. This holds the possibility of being a start down the road of peace, instead of another road towards war and destruction. Every time one weapon is destroyed, the hope is that it means more resources released to do the work of peace; to feed the hungry; to help those in need and to provide infrastructure to bring clean water, energy and hope to the poor around the world. This is not a new hope. In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower said of modern weapons, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in a final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” In other words, every time a plow is forged into a weapon, all of humankind loses out on a chance for the peace of God.

Jesus speaks into our darkness, the day of the coming of the Lord will sneak up on you, no one knows when it will be, nor what exactly will happen. But it will happen, and it will happen in the midst of everyday life. And Jesus warns us, “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

These are not words we expect or want to hear as we begin our countdown to Christmas. They are words of warning and words of hope. We do not know when it will be, only that it will sneak up on us. It will come wherever we happen to find ourselves and whatever we are doing at the time. We are called to watch and be ready. Or to use two words basic to the Advent season: preparation and expectation. We cannot look for God at work if we do not expect to find God at work. We cannot prepare for God's work if we do not believe God will act.

Where do you see God at work? When are you God at work?

We live between the beginning and the end. We live in the end times that are not yet. We live in the present that is the culmination of the past. Advent calls out to us to live the way of Christ in the world of today, carrying God's dream for our world. This is somewhat different from Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping or the frenzy around Christmas and the sentimentality connected with so many of our customs.

We live in a time when God's dream is but a pinprick of light in the dark sky, and faith is what we are called to live out in the midst of our everyday lives. Advent is a border country, the old is passing away and the new is approaching, and Christ is the turning point, the center where time past and time future meet, where the longings of our hearts meet the dream of God and become our reality.

I'd like to challenge all of us this Advent to live differently than before. To live as if God mattered, and as if your friends, neighbors and those who have nothing matter just as much to us as they do to God. To live with open eyes and hearts to see God at work, in the homeless shelters, in the schools, on our streets, in our hospitals and in our homes.

There is a movement called the Advent Conspiracy. It asks people to do three things during Advent: Worship Fully - in other words, give God our full attention; Spend Less - to not get caught up in the frenzy of shopping and living beyond our energy, time and resources just because we have to; and Give More - to use what we don't spend to care for others.

Spend Less, Give More and Worship Fully. And the reign of God will come a little closer. May each one of us be a beacon of the light of God's love and God's peace in the midst of the darkness.

Poetry is a better way to experience Advent; this one is by Larry J. Peacock.

In the darkness of the season,
in the silence of Mary's womb,
new life waits and grows.

Hope is shaped in hidden places,
on the edges, in the depths
far from the blinding lights and deafening sounds of consumer frenzy.

In the darkness and silence of my own life,
I wait,
listening for the whisper of angel wings,
longing for a genuine experience of mystery,
hoping for a rekindling of joy and the establishment of peace.

I lean into the darkness
and silence.
Expectant.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Ramona Rich wrote:
Wow! Quite a message, Lucretia. Thank you. Love, Ramona

Tue, December 17, 2013 @ 9:53 AM

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