For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. (Isaiah 65: 17-18)
On the twelfth day of Advent, my true love gave to me…Ugh oh…it’s not Advent, the song is about Christmas. The two are so easily confused in our world. Advent is not Christmas. Christmas is about the manger and Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and the beginning of life again. Christmas is about God’s coming into our little world to shake things up and change us and everything around us. But Advent? Well, Advent is about looking toward the horizon, looking toward that time when, yet again, our little world will be shaken to its core and we and everything around us will be changed. Do you see it? There…there just over the horizon. The light is beginning to peak over the clouds and dawn is beginning to come.
So, Advent reminds us that what we see, what we know, what we have so carefully constructed in our life is not “It”. (Sorry, it’s not!) Advent reminds us that there is always, always a horizon. When Jesus came into this world, God incarnate, so long ago, as much as we Christians with all our pretty lights and our comforting Christmas carols try to make that “It”, I don’t think it is. The “it” that happened in that manger on that dark night in Bethlehem was not “It”. It was not really the things for which the world had waited. Rather, it was the beginning of it. It was the thing that pointed to “It”.
You see, if our celebrations stop at Christmas (or, for that matter, even START there), we have missed it all. If our celebrations stop in the manger, they are nothing more than an historic remembrance of a beautiful, incredible night when God peeked into the world. But if we begin to see the manger as the beginning, as the “it” that points to the “It”, as the beginning of what we will find just over the horizon, then the coming of God, Emmanuel, into our little world is everything that it was meant to be.
So, on this twelfth day of Advent, raise your heads beyond the gift-buying and the tree-decorating, and all that this season holds. And open your eyes and see just over the horizon. There “It” is…we can’t see it all yet, but “It” is coming to be. There…there just over the horizon. That is “It”.
The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end in all of us that is not yet Christ. (Thomas Merton)
Grace and Peace,