Funny, the way we mark out our calendars into years- the school year, the fiscal year, the calendar year and increasingly important to me the church year. I read several blogs by rabbis and recently have been reading and thinking with them through Yom Kippur and the Days of Awe. As I begin to think about what our family celebration of Advent will look like this year, I am struck by the contrast between beginning the new year with penitence and judgment and beginning the new year with the fulfillment of a promise and the hope of a further promise yet to be fulfilled.
Advent is not just about the first coming of Christ and all of the waiting up until that point- Adam to Abraham, Abraham to Joseph, Joseph to Moses, Moses to David, and David to Christ. Advent is also the point at which we consciously enter into the waiting of the whole creation to be renewed and restored at Christ’s return. We can connect with all of those who waited and who got a fulfillment that not only went beyond their wildest dreams it didn’t even really resemble their wildest dreams. We too know what it is like to wait for generations, knowing “that He is faithful who promised” but not knowing when we will see the culmination of that faithfulness.
There’s another side to this waiting and hoping for the restoration of all things though. Listening to Shaun Groves’ Third World Symphony again this afternoon I heard it:
Oh God, what do we see and hear?
Your kingdom coming
Oh God, what do we see and fear?
Your kingdom coming
Do we want it? Yes. Do we want it our way? Definitely. Are we convinced that God’s way is better whether we understand it or not? Not so much.
We do long for the healing of this broken, broken world. I’m starting to doubt though that I even have a glimmer of understanding of what’s broken. We are told that God created this thing and that thing and that He declared them “good”. Do we know what He meant? We should long for His Kingdom and we should fear, knowing that we too are broken and that His coming will reveal the ways in which we have not only suffered and been stunted by the brokenness of the world but have also contributed to that breaking.
Contributed. Actively and inadvertently making things worse, often while thinking and saying that we were making them better. Knowing that we are active contributors to the breaking of the world how can we enter Advent and celebrate a season of hope?
Simply put we can’t. Without the Messiah we have no hope, not for ourselves and not for the world. Thankfully though there is grace and grace beyond our imagining, a wild gift designed to bring us to the place where we can anticipate the healing of the world, and work for the healing of the world knowing that ultimately it is out of our hands and that God will do as He has promised and “make all things (including us) new”.
That is why I will celebrate this turning of the year, with joy and with awe.
Linking over to Saints and Scriptures Sunday.