An Advent Reflection
“Secular society knows a little something about Christmas but virtually nothing about Advent. The danger for the Church is to end up going in this same direction. In our rush to get to the manger, we are tempted to downplay—or completely ignore—the Advent themes that the Church has long believed are necessary so that we can come to the cradle of Christ in the right way.” (Center for Excellence in Preaching)
Dan Clendenin: “Praying to God for mighty acts of deliverance is an entirely human and genuinely Christian response to the pain and suffering of the world, of our neighbours, and of our own lives. I intend never to stop praying for God’s miraculous intervention; such prayers remain a staple of my morning runs. But the season of Advent that we now enter adds an important qualification. God is not a Cosmic Concierge. Human experience gives the lie to the delusion, so deeply embedded in the American psyche, that every problem has a solution and that every question has an answer. Sometimes we must wait.” (http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20051121JJ.shtml)
Lamin Sanneh who teaches missions and world Christianity and history at Yale Divinity School says “God has staked the divine honour on the project to redeem and sanctify……God’s word [is] powerful; it places God at the center of our ventures, as the first and final surety. Christians, therefore, wait for the feast to come with grateful hearts even though in the interim their minds are set on unresolved troubles and unreachable horizons. Advent is quality time, not because of its [noisy] and crowded demands, but because it provides a time for us to receive God’s word and to collaborate in its fulfillment by being the connecting rod between vision and action.” (https://www.religion-online.org/article/waiting-on-god-isa-351f/)
As a latecomer to Advent celebrating churches, I found myself woefully ignorant of its tradition and practises. The idea of spending time in lament and even despair for several weeks prior to the excitement of the celebration of Christ’s birth was originally abhorrent to me, in all my ignorance of the Advent season. And yet it made sense of my hitherto unexplained sadness, all through my adult life, in the weeks preceding Christmas. Since the time of my recognition of Christ as the way to God, I knew something had changed in my emotional response prior to the annual Christmas celebration, a kind of darkness in my thoughts and feelings, but I had no explanation for it. Finally I discovered the season of Advent. Indeed it is a time for introspection, for admission that my life is not all it should be; a time to examine the darkness surrounding a world of political upheaval, wars, economic crises and violence; a time to admit that neither I nor the most experienced of world leaders have answers that will ultimately rescue the world around us; a time to face the darkness and despair around the globe and the accompanying feeling of hopelessness.
Participating deliberately in the Advent season is giving me new hope in the deliverance the birth of Jesus Christ is bringing not only to me but to all the suffering world. The truth that Jesus Christ is indeed The Answer is even more meaningful as I now deliberately allow myself to feel, during the Advent weeks, deep sadness for the misery of our world, to contemplate my own personal failures and distresses, to begin to grasp the reality of a Christ-less existence. At Christmas I now more fully realize and experience the joy of a better understanding of the impact of Jesus’ birth upon the world; an overwhelming joy to see how his existence as Lord of Lords moves us all toward the ultimate deliverance from despair: the return of Jesus Christ as the Ruler and King of all creation.
As we wait here in the darkness of Advent we have hope. The hope is Jesus Christ…the true light of the world.
November 21, 2011
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