“Our present life is lived between advents…We live between hiddenness and revelation.” -Walter Brueggemann
In a very literal sense, we live our lives in between advents—the first Advent is the incarnation and the second Advent, the Parousia—the Return of the King. Yet there is a third, less physical “Advent” we encounter when we embrace the other two spiritual realities as the bookends of our lives. It is in this “in-between Advent” which we find the answers to the everyday issues of life in living, coping, relating, learning, growing, and deepening our faith and our person into the one God created.
Surely, we have been living through a time of searching for hope in the midst of confusion and fear. This time of yearning for God’s intervention and anticipating His fresh beginnings focuses now on the Manger and the glorious white of Christmas. But it is not to what lies ahead that we must look, but to the now. Our preparation for the coming of Christ, as we prepare our hearts and minds for a season of joy and restoration, finds its motivation, and hope within the presence of Christ already manifest in us. As St. Paul proclaims to us in I Corinthians 1:7, "Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Those who do not know how it feels to struggle anxiously with the deepest questions of life, of their life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendor of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them.” Those who know this struggle and seek the peace of God through faith know the splendor of the moment in the present moment because the peace they seek is made available through the ‘present’ Advent—the showing forth of Christ in their lives now.
We decorate our homes and our Church, we play beautiful songs and hymnody, we wear blue, and red and green in anticipation of the glorious white to come. What a gift and blessing to know that our desire and our efforts to know Jesus in a new and wonderful Way are in fact being brought to fruition along the Way! Our life-long “third Advent,” is the amazing showing forth of Christ in our lives every day, and it is through the Holy Spirit that we are led to the manger.
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Father Bill Burk†