Many Christian churches around the world have begun to mark the season of Advent, spanning the four weeks before our celebration of the Incarnation on Christmas Day. On some level, Advent is about anticipating our commemoration of the historical moment of the birthing of the Christ in Jesus. This moment happened at a given place and time among real people and animals. The Christ in Jesus was born into a distinct situation: among an oppressed Jewish people trying to survive under the thumb of the Roman Empire. Advent and Christmas certainly commemorate this historical moment.
But the season of Advent, even more than waiting for Christmas, anticipates the coming of the Christ into the world. Some call it the Second Coming. Some call it the Reign of Christ. Advent is a season where our waiting for Christ is a kind of lament for a world not-yet-reconciled. Our waiting for Christ in Advent is a vigorously impatient waiting—-an aching waiting for the time of No-More-Tears.
Advent and Christmas fall in the midst of the ever-darkening skies, the time of year when our days grow brief and our nights long. In the silences of our night, each and every night, you are invited to listen for the Coming One in our Midst. Gather into the blessed darkness of night your every care, concern, and hope for God’s beloved world.
One beautiful online resource to help shape your personal Advent journey this year can be found at The Advent Door, by Jan Richardson. Jan is an artist, writer, and minister who brings her gifts to bear most beautifully upon her contemplative reflections on the season of Advent. Each evening, after the night has gathered around you, I invite you to turn to The Advent Door, read the reflections, and contemplate the images there. Then open yourself to the presence of God in your midst.
This Monday, December 14, if you find yourself near our campus between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, you are warmly welcome to come to a contemplative prayer service embracing the themes of Advent. The chapel will be set up with several stations for you to move through at your own pace, praying for the needs of the world, for the coming of Christ, and for your own openness to healing and reconciliation. This will be our last chapel service of the year. We would love to see you there.
Finally, as we live into this season, may we all come to know our need for Emmanuel, God-With-Us, our need for a reconciled world, and a reconciled heart to God’s love. And in a few weeks, even as we celebrate that the Christ was born in Jesus two millennia ago, so may we also celebrate the good news that Christ is active in the world today through the in-breaking of the Spirit into every broken place. Thanks be to God!
Jennifer W. Davidson
Assistant Professor of Worship & Director of Chapel
American Baptist Seminary of the West