ADVENT 1B: Isaiah 13: (24-31) 32-37
32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
The first day of Advent…the first day of the Christian year…and (I know), the first day that I’ve written a blog posting in a really long time. We begin this Year B of our Lectionary year with a reading from The Gospel According to Mark, whose writer really just sort of skips over the whole Advent / Christmas thing and cuts right to the chase. Most over-personalized readings of this Scripture leave us with a fear of what comes next. (Oh my, am I ready? What’s going to happen to me?) We quickly go to visions of those who are unprepared being uncomfortably ripped from what they know or, as a series of cult fiction writings would depict it, being flat out left behind! But keep reading…this is not meant to scare us; it is meant to wake us up. Sure, it is meant to remind us that there is something coming! We do not want to miss it. But, more than that, we do not want to miss the present spiritual awakening that we are all having in this very moment.
We have skewed our understanding of Advent a bit. I think all of us know that. But, really, can you blame us? The world is so bent on being prepared for what comes next that it tends to live one season ahead at all times–the Halloween decorations go up the end of August, the Thankgiving decorations go up the end of September, and the Christmas decorations go up the end of October. The twelve days of Christmas tide, will of course, be filled with merchandise sales, a couple of unreplaced burned out Christmas lights, and and a flowering of little red hearts filled with candy to make sure we’re ready for the next thing. Somewhere in there, Advent is lost. Oh, we Christians, do alright with it. We faithfully light one candle at a time while we begrudingingly ward off the singing of any Christmas carols. But Advent is not merely a season of preparation for Christmas. It is much, much more. It is from the Latin “Adventus“, which means arrival or coming. It is not really meant to be only a time of shopping and checking off our “to do” list for the December 25th festival. Rather, Advent is our awakening to the realization that the Divine is even now spilling into our lives, even now a new humanity is being birthed, and even now all of Creation is being reformed and recreated.
We cannot live one season ahead. God will come when God will come. The full revealing of what God has in store is yet to be. But this season of Advent, this season of waiting, awakens us that we might see that it has already started to be. The feast has yet to be set but the dancing has begun. All we have to do is learn to stay awake.
In this season of Advent, give yourself the gift of your own awakening to God’s Sacred Presence that is all around you.
Grace and Peace,