Sunday, November 29, 2009


With Advent's onset, we turn toward the New Year--and beyond--with tangible hope

NEW YEAR NOW.  I think of Advent as the beginning of the Christian year.  The calendar year is waning. Even now, its possibilities and disappointments, highlights and tragedies are being analyzed by pundits.  It's been an awesome year, but its unfulfillments yield to an already-emerging hope for the future. Christians are the first to look to the horizon for what is promised and yet to come. Even as we live in the present challenges, we're anticipating something that will redeem and renew all that has been downtrodden, devalued, and distorted. For us, the future begins today, on this first Sunday of Advent.

SOMETHING TO PARTY ABOUT. No doubt, we will observe the official New Year on January 1.  But we will do so as ones who have prepared for it with soul-searching, Word-guiding, promise-bearing, Incarnation-proclaiming anticipation.  By the time the world's New Year rolls around, we will be several days into our celebration of the Word made flesh, the Advent conspiracy commenced, hope alive, the future drawing near. While New Year's Eve revelers drink emptily to the New Year, we will have already embraced its challenges with imagination and courage.  We will celebrate, but not like ones who have no hope.

BEYOND THE NEW YEAR.  With Advent, we turn toward the New Year, to be sure, but toward something beyond it.  Our hopes are not in the New Year.  Our hope is in the One who holds our time and all time in His hands.  During these four weeks, we remind ourselves of preparation and anticipation of the ancient story that reaches into the future and gives purpose in the present.  We recall that our lives are rooted in something deeper than mere culture and tradition, that we are not alone in our struggles for justice and a better world, and that love has come to us right where are--a love the invites belief, faith, perseverance, and a confident hope in a yet-to-be-fulfilled future.  

EMBRACE THE STORY, LIVE ITS PROMISE.  I embrace these weeks with gratitude for the opportunity to look forward with meaning and purpose.  Perhaps I am unusually moved by the shaping of these days in terms of hope, but I accept that as a grace and share it as one of a handful of enthusiasms I possess and pass along.  I challenge you to begin to contemplate anew the age-old story of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.  In this multi-faceted story is enough tangible hope to charge our present days, empower us to let go of yesterday's disappointments, and bring the future near.  Let's begin to celebrate the New Year together even now. 

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.

1 comment:

  1. It was your introduction of the colors of the church year that caused me to realize the import of Advent. I find now that it has as much punch as Lent. The church dresses in purple for both periods. The purple of Advent leads to Christmas and the incarnation/God with us. The purple of Lent leads to Easter, the resurrection and the power of God to redeem. You need both. It is not coincidence that caused the tradition of the use of purple for both these periods of build-up and watchful waiting during the church year. I think it was God, helping us to understand.


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