Advent. D.D. Murphy calls it the “three-fold coming (adventus) of Christ – as baby refugee, as Word and Sacrament, as glorious Lamb of God”. We think of this season as one of hope. Hope for a persecuted people whose messiah was someone they never dreamed of born in a way they never imagined. Hope for the forgiveness of sins for the entire world after dying and raising from the dead. Hope for a warrior on a white horse who will defeat evil and eradicate death and tears from the Earth forever. Hope for each of us that somehow when we wake up Christmas morning things will all be different. It won’t be just the presents under the tree that we stayed up all night wrapping for the kids, but that there will be something there for us, too. Maybe something in the form of peace in knowing that we have made right choices or that everything is somehow going to be ok. But this isn’t our first advent and we’ve seen this movie before. In fact, we’ve played the leading role.
Come Christmas morning everything will still be the same. The same doubts and fears. The same uncertainty and foreboding that we went to bed with the night before will still be there. Somehow the bills will still need to get paid and our loved one’s prognosis will not have changed. We’ll wonder when all of these magical promises will come true and when our prayers will be answered and everything will be alright. When will this man who died and rose come again and take away all of the pain from the world? We find ourselves then in a place where there is no hope and we feel like we have been lied to and made the butt if a cruel joke. What if, though, we just read the story wrong? What if the key was not in the stuff about a sweeping victory that we have to wait for to come some day, but instead the key was in the talk of loving our neighbor and letting our works be the proof of our faith? What if Jesus wasn’t just speaking in parables when he said whatever we do for the least of these we do for him? Maybe then, there is a much greater hope for us this advent – one that we don’t have to wait for in painful expectation. Instead, it is a hope that can be realized right here and right now by living the example set by Jesus in feeding, clothing, and loving one another.
This advent season, let’s prepare and make way for a new and real realization of our hopes brought about here in our time by the hands and feet of Christ. Let us wake up this Christmas morning with a smile on our faces and reassurance in our hearts that Jesus is doing what he said he would – through us – one broken heart at a time.