Advent is not a simple season.
Its four weeks are full of festive preparation, yet it’s a penitential time as well. Along the way, it asks us to hold in balance three separate “comings”:
- The coming long ago of Jesus to earth, born as a child in Bethlehem
- His coming at the end of time in joy and glory, preceded by terrifying signs that both anticipate and call for judgment
- And stretched between these poles and marking our days, his coming in and to and through his Body that is here: the Church and you and me.
Fortunately, that first event tells us all we need to know if we are to wait for the second and live the in-between. The secret lies in seeing it through the prism of pregnancy and Mary, who as his human mother is also a sign of the Church as well as mother and model of all believers. Like her, we are to be:
Aware we can do nothing without him (“how can this be?” – Lk 1:34)
Listening to hear his word and open to receive it (“let it be to me according to your word” – Lk 1:38)
Knowing in faith that God will make good on his promises (“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” – Lk 1:45)
Making space in our lives for him, however ill-suited our situation may seem (she “wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger.” – Lk 2:7)
Holding what we don’t understand in our hearts, waiting in patient trust for God to reveal it in his time (“All who heard it wondered … But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” – Lk 2:18–19)
Like an expectant mother, we can live each moment in readiness, allowing God’s life to germinate in us and be born into the world in his time. He wants to be born in us through our words and actions as we wait for his final coming. That day will mark the end of sorrow and hardship, grief and pain. But until then, his coming daily into our lives brings strength and comfort and joy—for us and overflowing to others.
God will dwell with (us), and (we) shall be his people; and God himself will be with (us); he will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes, death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain nay more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:3b–4)
‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
May the grace of the Lord be with you this Advent.
© 2021 Sarah Christmyer
+ + + + + + +
May the almighty and merciful God,
by whose grace you have placed your faith
in the First Coming of his Only Begotten Son
and yearn for his coming again,
sanctify you by the radiance of Christ’s Advent
and enrich you with his blessing.
As you run the race of this present life,
may he make you firm in faith,
joyful in hope and active in charity.
So that, rejoicing now with devotion
at the Redeemer’s coming in the flesh,
you may be endowed with the rich reward of eternal life
when he comes again in majesty.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, † and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever.