The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
~ Jeremiah 33:14
Look around, look around...Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical, "Hamilton" has a song that beckons one partner to another: we cannot miss the life that is here, now; we cannot miss what is good all around us. "Look around, look around," she encourages, "how lucky we are to be alive right now." As we begin our 2018 Advent season, it is important to begin by continuing her encouragement: how lucky we are to be alive. In the midst and mess of our hurrying and scurrying, there is life around us, there is kindness around us, there is hope, great and small hope - all around us. Advent comes to us today: look around, look around....Advent, the autumn-into-winter time, the season of waiting, the not yet time is all around us. In these days we mark with intention the coming of God's promise. This is our time to light candles, to pray, sing, to believe our way into what is not yet, but surely coming.
You and I, we have been given this one precious life. Each day, a new gift. Each day, a new start, a new possibility. That doesn't mean life is easy, or without hardships. For some of us, it surely is. But what matters and what I take from this song's invitation is that we are here - now. We are alive - now. What we weep and lament, what we taste and smell and hear and shout and sing, is our story being lived out. We have not been promised an easy life. But I believe that we have been promised the love of Emmanuel, God-with-us. Advent every year reminds us of the promise of this, of the comfort and joy of this. Advent promises the light, hope, love of this.
Advent is not a time of passive waiting. Advent is not the time to be in the audience docilely watching. Instead it is a time to enter in. As we move through this season we will move from autumn into winter. As we journey through these December days, we will experience our days growing shorter and our nights growing longer and the darkness greater. We can feel the cold is settling in. Some of us can feel it settling in our bones, and some of us feel it settling in our spirits. For many of us, these have been difficult times and some of us are yearning for a light to shine in the darkness. Look around, look around...
And so we begin this ancient journey of Advent. Those of us weary-hearted and those with joyful anticipation, those of us who know this season well and those of us who have never really paid attention. We come, pilgrims all, to journey to Bethlehem. For hundreds of years Christians have celebrated Advent. These four Sundays proceeding Christmas hold markers for us as we move through these nights and days of intentionally waiting. What are do you feel you are waiting for this Advent? What is Not Yet here now for you? Nearly four weeks of preparing, of anticipating, of making a space for the Holy.
How are we then, suppose to do Advent? How are we to wait? Exactly? Are we supposed to know what we’re waiting for? Is there a manual to follow? Sure, there are lots of them. Hopefully this blog will be a space for you to come and wait as we move through these December days. Each week we will reflect on scriptures and words from familiar hymns. Each week will have a theme. I’ve chosen four images to companion us as we are reminded to look around and be mindful of just how lucky we are to be alive right now: Waiting, Roots, Nature's Signs, and Light.
Jeremiah’s words resound into the darkness: the days are surely coming when I will fulfill my promise. This Advent I am yearning for God's lovingkindness for our world. I am longing for God’s promise to be fulfilled – for feelings of despair and darkness to be surrounded by light; for broken places to be held in grace. I am longing for our fears to be met with love. Advent's message of Emmanuel, God with us will come in human form to show us how to love one another and the Holy One. Surely the days are coming… Look around, look around...
Gracious and loving God,
Advent in us this day, we pray.
Gather us in, so that as we
begin our journey to Bethlehem,
we begin with open and grateful hearts.
May we be inspired by your light, hope,
joy and love that journeys with us. Guide
our steps, we pray. May this journey bring us
home again to you. Amen