December 5, 2011

advent

“O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace”
O Come, O Come Emmanuel

“…and if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14)

The season of Advent is and has always been one of my favorite seasons of the Church Year. Maybe it’s because I’ve always enjoyed the bleakness of the late autumns and early winters November and December bring; the days are nearing their shortest and the impending winter brings a sense of everything closing in around you. It’s at this time that the familiar rhythm and practices of the Church have their greatest impact: the colors of purple (and, in some Lutheran churches, dark blue) linens, the candles, and the evergreen wreaths and boughs serve as a reminder that the joy of Christmastide is just around the corner.

More than that for me, however, are the Scripture readings the season brings; just as the Old Testament readings from the prophet Isaiah and others express ancient Israel’s longing for deliverance and reconciliation with God during its time of dispersion and exile, our attention as Christians is the hope, longing, and preparation to once again welcome the Christ Child into a hostile world. We see the increased coarseness and vulgarity of the culture we live in, the incredible cheapness of life, the violence, and the attacks on Christianity and Christians all over the world. The radical secularists of the West and radical Islamic fundamentalism in both Asia and Africa seek to stamp out all vestiges of these faiths and crush them under increased persecution through oppression and violence.

It is during these times that God seems far away indeed, and it is all too easy to throw our hands up in the air and say there’s nothing we can do about it. But Advent and the lessons from Scripture ask us to take a much broader view of ourselves, our world, and our place in it. The start of a new Church Year brings with it the opportunity for personal and spiritual renewal, and a re-examination of the way we live our lives and conduct ourselves around others. By changing ourselves, we can and do, in effect, change the world we live in.

Attending Mass today at St. Timothy Catholic Church (a perfect way to spend a morning while the car was getting serviced), I was struck by the size and diversity of the crowd that had gathered: people from every color and ethnicity, young families, lots of teens (always a great sight to see), old and young all gathered together to praise God and received Our Lord’s most precious Body and Blood. People who at any other day and time would probably not socialize together or know they share the common bond that Christianity and being a Roman Catholic brings. But for those 90 minutes we all worship, sing, listen to Scripture, pray, and receive the Eucharist together, united in a common identity that runs through Christ’s Body and Blood in a way that cannot be measured by the secular concepts of time, place, and identity.

It is in such a setting that true goals of modern-day liberalism and progressive political thought – tolerance, acceptance, and diversity – are actually practiced: not by the people present (we all, after all, have our own faults, failures, prejudices, and weaknesses), but by the one Triune God Who loves not just those who have gathered before Him, but everyone and everything He has created, in ways that are beyond our ability to understand and comprehend.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

As I left Mass and headed back to pick up my car, I couldn’t help but think that the great tragedy of my brother Mark’s death is that he could never find refuge in the Christian religion he was born into and the Roman Catholic faith he embraced several years back. There is so much hopelessness and helplessness in the world around us. We can choose to let it overwhelm us and drive us to the depths of human despair, or we can seek refuge in and embrace a loving God who loves us without question or condition. Advent teaches us that despair and disconnectedness from God, ourselves, our souls, and the world around us are nothing new: the people of ancient Israel longed for that time when their reconciliation with God would be complete. And it is from those same depths that our own hope, longing, and expectation of the Christ Child’s arrival comes from; in that way, Advent is perhaps the most “human” of Church seasons.

Were the desires, longings, and expectations of Advent left unfulfilled there would be no hope, no affirmative answer to the question of “is this all there is?” and the deep sense we all share that there has to be more than what this life and the world around us has to offer. God’s promise to humankind through the Incarnation of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and his death and glorious Resurrection are the fulfillment of every longing and hope known to humankind. And it’s there for each of us – not just during Advent, but every day we live and breathe. God invites us into the mystery of unconditional love and waits for our response; His calling card is always stuck in our door. God hears the longings of our souls, inviting us continually to turn from our hopelessness, despair, and disconnectedness to find refuge in His infinite love, mercy, and forgiveness.

Through Our Lord’s Incarnation God heard the prayers of Israel and delivered; during the season of Advent we are all Israel. Come, Emmanuel, indeed.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:25 | Comments (0)
No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment


goodboys.jpg


Search The Site



Recent Items

Categories

Archives
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006


Blogroll

Syndication

4 Goodboys Only

Site Info