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Advent: Comfort in Familiarity

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

As we journey together in this season of Advent—a season of preparation—I find comfort in its familiarity. The unpacking of the Advent candles—Hope, Peace, and Love—, the lighting of the Christmas Tree (thank you all for our festive bonfire, lighting and caroling!), the turning anew of our focus, and the sharpening of the scriptural word signaling “Advent!” and another church year.

Perhaps it may be surprising that I find comfort in the familiarity of a season that begins with sharp words of warning, a plea from our prophets, eschatological urgings from our Evangelists and admonishments to “Keep awake.” But I do find comforting the discomfort the season of Advent brings. Advent disturbs the status quo, stirs complacent hearts, challenges the frenetic pace of life, and focuses scattered attentions. “Shut the door” when you pray, Jesus instructs (Matthew 6􀀁6). Shut the door to distractions and business and the naysaying of the devil this season. Shut your door to the world as it is. And instead, open your heart to the mystery of God Emmanuel and God’s dream for the world as it could be.

The babe in the manger, the Christ-child, for whom we prepare our hearts this season is no electrified, plastic crèche that we plug in once a year, but the living Presence of God who grows in and among and with us and who changes us and our world. The babe in the manger for whom we prepare our hearts is the mysterious Reality that bridges the divide between the world we long for and the world that is, life everlasting amidst a pandemic, peace and justice amidst iniquity, health and healing, amidst brokenness and illness.

Just as expectant parents and families prepare for a newborn infant, readying themselves and their home, so, too, Advent asks us to ready ourselves to receive the mystery of the incarnation,

God-With-Us, and this preparation begins by drawing inward, close to God’s holy mystery. To sit here behind the veil of time with the gestant infant, we too can grow in love and faith, so that we too can bear anew God’s love into the world. May the mystery of God-With-Us touch our hearts, guide our feet and nurture our souls this Advent Season and always. Amen.

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