This is the first Advent in twenty-five years that I have not been part of the design and implementation of an Advent experience. It's a very strange feeling. However, what I continue to realize is that our ministry and life together are about God entering our world in flesh and blood.
Advent is a time to prepare for God's coming into our lives through Christ Jesus. The mysterious part of Advent is that we prepare our lives for two visitations. The most recognized preparation of Advent is preparing our lives for the celebration of Jesus coming as a baby in Bethlehem. The second visitation is the coming of Christ at the close of the age. We prepare our lives for the day in which Christ will complete creation. One way of looking at this "second coming" of Christ is that as we reach lost people with good news, practice hostitality, work for peace, give shelter to the homeless, and feed the hungry, we are living in ways that advance the perfect, completed creation. Maybe another way of looking at this time of preparation is that when we are about these things and sharing our faith, we are about the work of Jesus. In this mission we will recognize him and he will recognize us.
In a world in which we fuss about a heathcare plan, debate over whether to go to war or not, worry about job security and making ends meet, and experience division in our homes, communities, and faith communities, does our Advent preparation make any diffierence at all? What if followers of Jesus simply followed the one born in a manger, who died on a cross, and promised to come back again to complete what was started in the beginning as good? We'd love others as we find them. We'd share good news with them. We'd serve them. And nothing would be the same.