Somehow the days and months have melted away and today is the First Sunday in Advent, the beginning of our four week period of active waiting and preparation the precedes Christmas.
What is it that we are waiting and preparing for? In one sense, like the Israelite people who waited for the coming of the Messiah, we wait for the coming of Christ at Christmas, preparing ourselves to welcome him anew into our hearts. (Of course, unlike the Israelites, we wait knowing the whole plotline of the story – the incarnation of the God into the world that will lead to death, resurrection, ascension and the coming of the Spirit.) This is not a first time welcome – we prepare to welcome again the Christ who is already with us.
As Christians, we also wait for the Christ who will come again to judge the living and the dead, but who also is already here among us – in the Eucharist and in the faces of our brothers and sisters.
Thus, although we mark this four-week period as a time of waiting and preparation, there is a sense in which we as Christians are constantly waiting – giving rise to the phrase “we are an Advent people.”
We are always waiting, but it is not a passive waiting. This is not a sit back with our feet up waiting for Christ to come. It is good to remind ourselves as we begin this Advent season that we are intimately part of the fulfillment of the promise of Advent. Our entire lives are an active preparation, an active working for, the coming of Jesus.
How will you celebrate Advent this year?