Today is the First Sunday in Advent. In today’s Gospel from St. Mark Jesus tells his disciples to be watchful and alert because they do not know “when the Lord of the house is coming.”
Kayla McClurg’s commentary on this passage seems to me a perfect entry into the waiting we experience in Advent. She writes
How differently we experience different kinds of waiting. Awaiting the return of a loved one, or a longed-for new beginning, or a world that works better for everyone, these we can imagine with anticipation and heartfelt longing. Come, Lord Jesus! Quite different they are from the scratching anxiety that comes from dreading what lies ahead—impending surgery, a broken heart, the recognition of failure. Dread sometimes gets attached to Jesus. Fear of ourselves leads us to fear him, and to fear the ‘new day’ he heralds. We keep watch for his return, not because he is our saving grace, the love of our life, but because we dread his disappointment. Hovering in some of us is the fear that it might never be possible to live up to the standard of his love.
The tension between expectant love and hyper-vigilant fear can imprison us in a dark cell of doubt. Oh, we learn to wear a variety of masks, to pretend that all is well with our souls, while the torture squad within stretches us tight between fear and love. Just naming it aloud can be enough to propel us toward liberation. None of us wants to be afraid, chooses it as a life goal, yet we often turn from the bracing wind of our own awakening. We are not alone. Jesus says, the tree bears its fruit, and the watchman keeps watch. We, too, can admit to each other who we are. The fruit of our true selves even yet can emerge. We sleepers can awake. Even our anxieties about Jesus can be brought into the light and catapult us into new life.
Today, with “anticipation and heartfelt longing”, we pray Come, Lord Jesus! Come!