This time of the year always seems to be a cacophony of emotions. Certainly it has aspects of both beginnings and endings. For some, this time of the year is bittersweet with the memories of past Christmases and a longing for those who are no longer with us. For others it is a time of joy and excitement as they get together with family and friends to ride on the coattails of their children’s enthusiasm about the season. All in all it is a season of transitions.
Our Church calendar begins with this season of Advent. The word Advent literally means: “ the beginning or arrival of something anticipated”. For those of us that are Christians, that is followers of Christ, it is an anticipation of the Messiah and the coming of the kingdom of God. Advent marks our recognition of God incarnate - God with us.
In my own faith journey this past year, I have become more and more aware of this notion of God with us. The realization is that the Kingdom of God is not something in the future that we enter into at the time of our death. The Kingdom of God is now. God is with us. God becomes incarnate through us as we interact with others in our day to day lives.
One of my favorite hymns of this season is “In the Bleak Midwinter”. The last verse of the hymn goes like this:
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.
As we muddle through this season it is important to remember that Advent is a time of anticipation; the anticipation of God coming into our lives yet again. Much like Lent, Advent is a time of reflection. But Advent is a reflection outward instead of the inward reflection of Lent. It is a time of hope and giving; the giving of ourselves.
So as we move through this season of Advent and then Christmas, my prayer for us all is that we allow ourselves to anticipate and encounter God through each other. My prayer is that we all give ourselves an opportunity to follow the living Christ by our service to others; by the giving of our hearts. The Kingdom of God is now! Emmanuel! God is with us!
God’s peace to you now and always,