With the First Sunday of Advent on November 28, we start the new Church Year.
“Advent” is taken from the Latin word for “coming”. It is a time that we celebrate the coming of the Lord, on not only the first Christmas, but now in our lives and in the future at the end of time when Christ will come to establish God’s eternal kingdom. What that will look like, when it will happen, what we will be like are all unknowns. In a way, those details are not important. What is important is revealed to us in Sunday’s Scripture readings.
In the book of the prophet Jeremiah, God promises to send a righteous ruler who will do what is just in the land. Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians urges us to increase in love of our neighbor so we can stand in the presence of the Lord at the time of his coming. Jesus, in the Gospel according to Luke, calls us to be vigilant, not to be caught off guard or drowsy because of the “anxieties of daily life,” among other things, which keep us from recognizing the time of his return.
Our modern era offers many distractions that can cause “anxieties of daily life.” Advent in response offers a time when we can quiet our lives, turn off some of those distractions that are outside of us, and pay attention to the still small voice of God in our lives. Actually, this might be a good time to make a real New Year’s resolution—a New Church Year’s resolution to set aside quiet “no-screen” time every day or every week. It can be a time to take a break from anxiety and find some peace in God’s presence, to examine what is going on in life and how we respond. Are our responses the loving ones that Paul describes? Do they include an attentiveness and mindfulness of the needs of others to which the Gospel calls us?
Advent is a season to quiet down, listen to God’s Spirit in our lives, and be open to growing in love and hope. With an opening, listening attitude, we will be ready for Christ’s arrival no matter how or when it happens.
Happy New Year! Happy New Life!