I was on a zoom call a couple of weeks ago. The district superintendent invited pastors to see one another on the little boxes that fill the computer screen. It’s become a way we see other people, sometimes the only way to see other people, whether it’s members of the family or co-workers or friends. Anyway, the Zoom call gave us the chance to greet one another and share a bit about the hopes and dreams, the challenges and surprises that have been happening in our lives.
Some good things were shared, but what struck me most of all was disappointment and regret, sadness and loss that filled the conversation. This has been a difficult time. Some days I press on and things go fine however there are many days that don’t go so well. And in those moments, I find myself weary with a situation without an end in sight. I am tired.
Advent seems to be the season that speaks most deeply to our current situation. It’s a time of expectant waiting. A time of leaning forward on tiptoes, straining for what is to come and also choosing to grieve rather than simply accept the status quo. The prophets speak of God’s arrival to proclaim liberty to the captives and comfort all who mourn. John the Baptist gives witness to one who is to come. An angel appears to Mary with startling news that she will bear a child who will be great and be called the Son of the Most High and will reign over a kingdom that will have no end. God is finding ways to open up a new future and until it arrives, we are to wait with eager longing. The most reassuring message of the season is that the existence of hope does not depend on us. It does not rely on our virtue or wisdom. It is a delivery that come from elsewhere.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned and executed by the Nazi’s in WWII, got at the heart of the season when he wrote:
“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.”
Henri Nouwen put it this way,
“The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him in any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord.”
Now, in this season of Advent, I may be more open to what Advent is about than ever before.
God be with you,