Answers & Images in Advent
The word “advent” means coming. And the Church calendar begins with the season of Advent because as Christians we are waiting for something (really Someone) in particular to come. We are not unique in this. Every person and every community of people have an ultimate object for which they wait. Something (or someone) is coming for everyone. The question is “What is it?” What is your ultimate object of waiting? That is a question of the utmost importance, because what you wait for rules your life.
For the four Sundays of Advent we are going to turn our attention in worship to the Old Testament, New Testament, and Gospel readings provided in the Revised Common Lectionary. Each week the readings raise a question and then present a biblical image in answer to the question raised. These images guide us through our waiting: In week one we face the question of loss with the image of a branch. Week two raises the question of sin and the images of fire and soap. Week three ushers in the question of anxiety and the image of a well. And finally in week four we wrestle alongside Mary with the question of security and the image of a body. Loss, sin, anxiety, security – these are questions everyone encounters as they wait for whatever object has become ultimate in their heart.
What have you lost that cannot be restored, at least not by you? What sin or vice has created distance between you and God, you and others? What makes you anxious? Upon what do you rely to make your life secure in a very insecure world? Advent questions. They beg for Advent images.
The great hope of the Christian faith is that Jesus will come again, even as he has already come before. He is like a branch, and a fire, and a well, and he has taken on a human body so that through his life, death, and resurrection in that body all our questions might be answered and all our struggles ended.
We wait to see Jesus in his body, even as Mary waited while pregnant. She had Jesus dwelling inside her but she didn’t see him in his body until his birth at Christmas. As Christians we are no different than Mary – we too have Jesus living inside us by the Holy Spirit and we too will see him in his body when he comes. That means our entire life is like one long Advent and the ultimate Christmas for which we wait is Jesus’ second coming. Until then the questions remain and the images are needed.
I hope you will wait with us in worship this Advent.