Sunday, November 21, 2010
Thoughts on Advent
Let me just assure you that Pastors feel the same pressure. On our minds, we have Sunday school programs and Advent services... We have the stark realization that a ton of people will be in Church on Christmas who are not in Church regularly at other times and the sermon better be good... We have the ordinary routine of sick calls, shut-ins, funerals, and maybe a wedding thrown in the mix (why do folks have the nerve to get sick, die or get married at Christmas --whew... just too busy). The administrative load increases (did I hear parochial report will be due in January?!?).
The point of Advent is not to slow us down (for we would surely use any extra time to try to get more done, wouldn't we). The point of Advent is to direct us to another event. I don't remember where I read it but it was stunning to me -- "Every Advent brings us one year further away from Bethlehem and one year closer to the Day of Christ's Coming." We are not preparing for a birth or even a birthday but for the Day of our Lord when time will finally stand still.
The last weeks of the Sundays in Ordinary Time have been preparing us with the words of Jesus about the Day of His Coming. Now in Advent we move more deliberately to this theme. Will there be faith on earth? asks the Scriptures of Jesus' return. Will there be those whose palms and hosannas welcome Him again as once they welcomed Him of old? Will voices cry out in our dark night "Prepare the Way of the Lord?" Will there be ears to hear and eyes to see what the Lord has done to usher in His coming kingdom? Will we who know the Emmanuel of Word and Sacrament hear, heed, taste, and see His sacramental presence so that we are fit to receive His glory in its fullness?
Advent is not delayed gratification of Christmas but the flashing neon sign that says the manger event is already complete. Don't get ready for Bethlehem, let Bethlehem get you ready for the great and awesome day of the Lord when the beginning finds its eternal ending. It is for this reason that we keep Advent as its own season and not merely the prelude into Christmas...