Happy New Year! No, I am not jumping the gun toward January 1. Time passes to quickly already! But, as you well know, the First Sunday of Advent begins the church calendar. The liturgical year cyclically marks “seasons” whereby we mark time and hear stories in scripture, worship, liturgy, and prayer of God’s love for us in so many ways. Throughout the year we experience the personal stories of our own lives-birth/death, health/illness, loss/recovery, joy/sorrow, success/disappointment. Each year we revisit these timeless themes and events that are such a part of our lives, always happening, and is so doing we frame all of it within the context of divine grace and love, always there.
I was looking at the morning news earlier today and saw an image of the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza. I note that as Sunday, December 3, 2017, the First Sunday of Advent, comes we recognize our waiting time for Christmas, the celebration of Jesus coming into our world, our lives, in human form. But I have to ask myself, and I ask you, “Who is waiting for whom?’
To be sure, we anxiously await the coming of Christmas, with gifts, festivities, reunion of families and friends, candles, music, and, lest we forget, Christ. Have you ever considered this thought that God might be waiting on you? St. Augustine of Hippo suggested in one of his writings that humans, when they are born, are hurled out into the world and all the rest of their life is a return to God-the God who waits for us. Many things get in the way of our return; the diversions of other things or activities that become detours on which we can become lost from the journey into the waiting arms of God.
The first thing we will do in worship tomorrow in worship is light the first candle of the Advent Wreath, the candle of hope. The very circle of the wreath itself reminds us of God, eternal and endless. The evergreens are reminding us of the hope of eternal life.
My hope for you this Advent is that these four weeks before Christmas are a time of preparation and that these preparations are steps you might take toward God who waits for you.
A blessed Advent journey home to you,