Advent in a time of lament

Advent is a time of waiting . . .

. . . waiting for the Christ to come.

Our world
a world broken by gun violence, mass shootings,
a world marred by racism on every level and deadly violence leveled against black bodies, brown bodies, where black lives seem not to matter much

a world bitterly divided between politics of the right and the left,

a world where hate crimes against those on the margins appear to be increasing
a world that continues to be marred by all of the ongoing suffering, starvation, war, poverty

The litany is too long, too heart-rending to go on.  If we take seriously even a small slice of the concerns of our world, it can be overwhelming.

And of course there is much good, much hope, much love, much goodwill in this same world.

And isn’t that how it has often been?  A world of remarkable achievements yet marred by the crushing reality of suffering.

What is the good news of Advent in such a world? Is it just a countdown to Christmas?

I hope not.

We need more from Advent.

Advent is the cultivation of our faith, as we await the coming of Christ.

Advent is allowing Christ to come not only in the Last Day, but today and every day.

Advent is being Christ to those around us, in a broken and suffering world.
Advent is seeing that Christ is already here.  Already in the suffering. Already in the brokenness, the violence, the division.
That Christ who binds and heals and advocates first and foremost is present.
Present in those who hunger.
Present in those who are systematically oppressed.
Present in those black bodies and brown bodies that our society seems hell-bent on destroying.
Present in those most affected by acts of hatred and the worst impulses of humankind.

Come, Lord Jesus? Indeed.  We long for Christ to manifest that ultimate power, that final authority, to restore and put all things to rights.
But first we must learn to see the Christ who is already among us, in the faces of those who suffer.

Advent is much more than a way to countdown the days to Christmas. Much more than a store-bought calendar, with a chocolate waiting for each day.
Advent is participating in Christ’s ongoing redemption of the world,
as we work towards that Last Day
when suffering and brokenness and hatred find their match in our Risen Savior.
Or it really isn’t much of anything at all.

Open the daily Advent Calendar windows, by all means, but remember the urgency of the work that Christ has given us.
Take that Advent Wreath each evening, as dusk falls, and light a candle in the darkness as a reminder that the light shines and cannot be overcome.
But do not neglect the work of Advent, the work of redemption, the work of justice.
Do not neglect seeing Christ in the face of someone different, someone other.
Do not neglect seeing the call to the work of Christ in your own daily life.
Christ is calling.  Christ is coming. Christ is here.

Advent is a time of waiting . . .

. . . waiting for the Christ to come.
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