This past weekend, wedged between the hype and indulgence of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the first Sunday of Advent quietly arrived.
The days surrounding this Sunday and the Sunday itself have at least one similarity: all are forward-looking, steeped in anticipation. But that is where the similarities end.
The consumer holidays look forward to increasing the amount of stuff we or others have purportedly to increase one’s happiness quotient. Advent looks forward to the coming of Christ, the only one whose coming will deliver true happiness once and for all.
The consumer holidays look forward to parties and food and family gathered together in all of their imperfect relationships. Advent looks forward to the wedding feast with the Lamb, the ultimate party where broken relationships will finally be healed.
The consumer holidays look forward to symbols of abundant life that moths and rust most surely will destroy at some point. Advent looks forward to the abundant life promised by God that nothing – not even death – can destroy. In fact, Advent points us forward to the day when death itself will be destroyed.
After an election year filled with strife, where insults and promises filled the air, Advent reminds us yet again that the Prince of Peace came not with power and prestige and wealth, but as a tiny baby of unknown, poor parents. The promises of this Prince are the only truly trustworthy promises and they come to us in a power that is displayed as weakness.
God – the Creator and Sustainer of all there is – taking on human flesh, indeed that of a baby born of a woman just like you and I. The great theological reflections of Chalcedon barely scratch the surface of this mystery.
And so we enter this season once again. Filled with hope we pray “O come O come Emmanuel.” Indeed, come quickly.