November 26, 2016
Advent, as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary, is “the coming or arrival, especially of something awaited or momentous.” Advent is the season to watch and wait ‒ expectantly, joyfully. It is also the time to make ready for the coming of Jesus Christ. The words “wait” and “watch” may sound passive, but there nothing passive about the advent of Jesus Christ. Watching and waiting during Advent is far from passive when you consider what God is about to birth into the world. If you think it is passive, look and listen to John the Baptist, standing knee-deep in the river Jordan, screaming his head off, shouting at the top of his lungs, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). If you think for one minute that Advent is passive, get a load of this wandering preacher from Nazareth who calls us to radically reorient our lives ‒ personally and collectively. What do we think Jesus meant when he said “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand?” (Matthew 3:2).
If you think that the watching and waiting of Advent is passive, re-read Mary’s “Magnificat” (Luke 1:45-55), re-read “The Sermon on the Mount.” If you are still not convinced, re-read the 25th chapter of Matthew. No, my friends, the season of Advent is far from passive. As a matter of fact, it’s downright dangerous, even subversive. In the coming of Jesus, God calls us to places we’d rather not go and to actions we’d rather not take. With the coming of Christ, love wins over hatred, peace over war, reconciliation over separation and division. In the active watching, waiting and preparing for Advent, we discover a light that overcomes all darkness and salvation that overcomes the bondage of sin and death. If you still think Advent is a passive season, think about what awaits Jesus when he becomes a man. In the words of Jim Croce, “We say we love the baby, and we crucify the man.” Advent does not lead to a Hallmark card sentimentality of a manger scene. However, brothers and sisters in Christ, if we actively prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ, we will receive a hope that will never disappoint, a peace that can never be understood, a perfect love that casts out all fear and a joy that can never be taken away. It is my prayer that each of us will actively prepare to receive the Lord Jesus Christ.
Have you and I kept our hearts open to Christ? Are we ready and willing to receive his transforming presence in our lives? Advent is not passive. We must ready ourselves for the coming of Christ. Now, I know that, theologically and liturgically, we’re not at Christmas yet, but my heart will not let go of this Christmas poem I’ve written. It might have nothing to do with the rest of this blog, but here it is anyway.
Sweet Child of Mine
by Leonard E. Fairley
What did she see gazing into the eyes
of God needing milk on silent nights in
Bethlehem, a hungry stomach’s craving?
What did she hear in the soft cooing of God
made flesh? Her child for all the world so human,
tiny fingers touching her face?
Reflections of salvation gleaming brightly in
Divinity’s eyes tenderly resting upon Mary’s
lap, rocked peacefully into deep sleep.
Cries piercing midnight silence, God listening
to redemption’s song, sweet voices, mother
and child singing with one heart, one hope.
“Hush little baby, don’t you cry,” heaven knows
why you weep tears deep enough to heal the
world, a mother always knows.