Archive for November, 2014

Advent

Posted: November 30, 2014 in Advent, Books, Christianity, Christmas, Faith, Holiday, Poetry

Lo, in the silent night
A child to God is born
And all is brought again
That ere was lost or lorn

Could but thy soul, O man,
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.

15th Century

 
Though Advent (literally “arrival”) has been observed for centuries as a time to contemplate Christ’s birth, most people today acknowledge it only with a blank look. For the vast majority of us, December flies by in a flurry of activities, and what is called “the holiday season” turns out to be the most stressful time of the year.

Mother Theresa once noted that the first person to welcome Christ was John the Baptist, who leaped for joy on recognizing him, though both of them were still within their mothers’ womb. We, in stark contrast, are often so dulled by superficial distractions that we are incapable of hearing any voice within, let alone listening to it.

Advent marks something momentous: God’s coming into our midst. That coming is not just something that happened in the past. It is a recurring possibility here and now. And thus Advent is not merely a commemorative event or an anniversary, but a yearly opportunity for us to consider our future, the promised coming of God’s kingdom on earth.

If the essence of Advent is expectancy, it is also readiness for action: watchfulness for every opening, and willingness to risk everything for freedom and a new beginning.

That is why the imagery of the nativity scenes is not sufficient to explain the Christmas message. Yes, God came into the feeding trough of an animal. But it was not only as a baby that he lay there. This child was the same man who was crucified on Golgotha, and who rose again. Within the manger lies the cross – and the hope of redemption and resurrection.

To recognize this requires reverence and humility. It requires faith.

 

 

The entirety of the text above consists of excerpts from the preface and introduction of “Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas” published by Orbis Books (Fourteenth Printing, November 2011).