It is the first week of Advent and I wanted to pass along a number of Advent-related thoughts that are worth sharing. All are interesting, provocative, and thoughtful reflections on this season.
Here are the texts from the revised common lectionary for each of the four weeks of Advent.
From Fleming Rutledge:
It is typical of Advent liturgies to weave together biblical and liturgical references to the first and second comings of Christ so that it is almost impossible and—more important—unnecessary to tell where one begins and the other ends. They blend into one another just as the angel Gabriel’s gentle yet apocalyptic salute to the Virgin Mary blends into and complements the thunderous announcement of John the Baptist…
Advent is only secondarily about the baby Jesus. It is primarily about the rending of the heavens (Isaiah again) and the coming of the Lord in power and glory to take the creation back for himself. Until he comes, then, we are the people who put on the armor of light “now in this present time” and by our works point to the One who is to come.
So even if we can’t go to Haiti, we can support those who do; and we can help to civilize our public discourse; and we can offer our gifts and encouragement to (for instance) the Diocese of Louisiana as it struggles not only with the aftermath of Katrina but now also with the BP disaster. This is the way that Advent people show that God has not forgotten those who suffer.
Advent is about getting rid of our illusions and living in expectation. It is about telling the familiar story of waiting, desiring, growing and birthing and also entering in to the waiting for a Second Arrival. Advent is a time not only to read about Mary’s pregnancy and the prophet’s declarations, but also to expect the Spirit to birth something new in us. To live in Advent is to be enlarged, feel the quickening for the Spirit’s work and to groan with the pains of labor. It is to shed illusion, live with unanswered questions and simply say with Mary…”Let it be done to me as You have said.”
I mentioned this last week, but you can also hear from church historian Nate Feldmeth on the history of Advent traditions and practices.
All Souls Charlottesville created “ten minute Advent retreats” you can receive via e-mail to encourage reflection throughout the season.
At The Hardest Question, the conversation is centered around the question of whether we can “keep preaching these texts, year after year, and expect people to believe he is coming?”