The first Sunday of Advent is November 28th – can you believe that? Talk about time flying by. Cindy and I were talking this morning about how “busy-busy” we’ve been with church business lately. Since Dave’s announcement it seems that most of our time and energy has been taken up with “what to do,” “how to do,” “when to do,” “who needs this right now,” and “we need that by tomorrow.” It’s been a mad rush, and now, suddenly, Advent is stepping out from around the corner and holding up its hand in greeting.
On second look, perhaps Advent’s hand is not greeting us, but holding up a Stop Sign to our faces!
Stop!, says Advent. Look around and really see what’s whizzing by as you run 90 miles a minute. Open up your ears; hear the beauty.
I think there’s an art to seeing Advent. In my training as a pastoral theologian I encountered the whole idea of what’s called “phenomenology,” a big word with multiple meanings and multiple nuances within those meanings. I finally landed on thinking of it mostly as simply a way of seeing. Phenomenologically, if you really want to see something deeply, down to its very essence, then you must “bracket” your ‘normal’ way of seeing—you have to let go of ‘normal’ assumptions about what our vision brings us.
If we bracketed our assumptions about Advent, with what would that leave us?
Personally, I assume Advent will be shopping, Christmas lights and trees, winter jackets, hot chocolate, annoying commercials, green and red everywhere, Salvation Army bell-ringers, presents, family-time…all that.
If I bracketed those assumptions, what would Advent be?
For me I think “awakening to a season of anticipation” is a lovely description of the essence of Advent. Beneath the hubbub and clamor, Advent is about the excitement of waiting. Remember as a child how we just couldn’t wait! for Christmas morning? Or how we just couldn’t wait for … whatever is was. That sense of thrill and exhilaration and jumping up and down! The essence of Advent for me is like that, for I know that what comes at the fulfillment of Advent will be amazing, beautiful, full of wonderment and awe. What comes at the fulfillment of Advent is the absolute miracle, the miracle of the ordinary. A baby. Born in obscurity to struggling parents. Happens all the time. And with the eyes to really see it, we know it’s happening all the time. With the eyes to really see it, all of life becomes the miracle it is.