Anticipation is what the Advent is all about.
I didn’t grow up in a tradition that spelled out the Advent on a calendar or with a particular liturgy. Like most of you, what little I know of the Advent season, has been quarantined within a narrow and particular framework that culminates in wise men, a pregnant virgin and a baby in feeding trough.
I’d like to invite all comers into a current expression of Advent. I believe there is something here for beginners as well as the devout. For me, there isn’t much value in retelling the story of God showing up in the world as a Jewish boy if the significance of this arrival doesn’t find itself in modern life.
How do we reconcile “A savior is born” to what we see on the nightly news?
The church’s main product is the seasonal teleportation back into the ancient story with primarily an esoteric suave for the suffering world that greets us each day. This pushes anticipation into our eschatology (end times) where Jesus will come back one day and open up a giant can of Whoop-Ass on those without KLOV on a radio preset.
Is that the best we can do? Are we anticipating a savior of the cosmos or a dread warrior?
What if the Advent of God into the world wasn’t entombed in the nativity scene? What if it wasn’t about us trying to find God in history, as much as recognizing God as something other than a bearded white man, a carpenter or a bird? Why is “other” diminished?
When we look deeply into our own eyes through a mirror we catch glimpses of our self. Over the course of our lives we have seen our body morph around that part where we see our same old soul flickering back at us. The pains and joys of life manifest themselves in increasingly deeper creases of skin as we try and shape our exterior into our “shoulds.”
There is a precise moment in the mirror when our consciousness sees beyond our face and sees who stares back? Who is that? It is you and it is so much more.
May I suggest that we are seeing something like an echo reverberating off eternity and beauty. All that we love and hate about our image reflects back the depth of what we aspire to or despair of. If we are awake, we can perceive the eternal moment showing up AS us. Sorrow is our unwillingness to accept that God is reflected in what we see.
What if the advent of God in the world in 2017 is you and me? No, we are not God. But my prayer is that we may discover, perhaps for the first time, that we are not completely other than God either. If the baby in the manger can teach us anything, let it be that God dwells within humanity. That our bodies are temples, and we are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:9), and that God has chosen to make his/her abode in thick darkness (1 Kings 8:12). That we have a treasure enrobed in a jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). We are an ongoing incarnation.
If we can accept our deeply sacred and spiritual capacity, then our personal Advent has begun. The wider Advent takes place every day as any act of love toward anything in the cosmos. Advent is the reparation of anything we discern as broken or disorderd. Advent is the acceptance that nothing is missing from each moment, and that the face looking back at us in the mirror is not just our own.
You are so much more than you. You are a unique reflection of God in the world. And so is everybody else.