Then Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Isn’t it enough for you to be tiresome for people that you are also tiresome before my God? Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel. He will eat butter and honey, and will learn to reject evil, and choose good…” Isaiah 7: 13-17a (Common English Bible)
Every year at this time, I ask myself, “Can the holiday really be here already? Where did the fall go?” This year is no exception, and my disbelief is even more pronounced. There has been so much going on at church this fall–all of it good and exciting stuff, but still it has been busy. It has been a full few months, and many of us are trying to catch our breath. Of course, now we are heading into the holidays with its intrinsic busyness both inside and outside the church. It is a bit cliche to tell you all to breathe, to make time for quiet and prayer, to cherish time with family and friends. But I am going to say it (not just to you, but also to myself)–breathe, be still, cherish and hold.
If we can separate ourselves from the consumerism and the frenzy, the season of Advent is a beautiful and powerful liturgical season. It is a time filled with anticipation and of preparation, of activity and of waiting. It is about promise in an era of broken promises; it is about light in the darkest time of the year; it is about patience in a truly impatient world. It is about breathing, cherishing and holding.
Advent is also the stark realization that God broke into the world in the form of a helpless infant and fulfilled a longed for promise that a little child will lead God’s people and offer God’s redemption. And in that moment, God gave God’s creation a new promise–my world and my children, all my children, will be ruled not by hopelessness, violence, despair or hatred, but set free by my hope, my peace, my joy and my love. Advent reminds us that we are people of promised fulfilled and promise anticipated. We are a people rejoicing the Good News of Jesus who lived his life fully in God’s love and completely for God’s people. We are also a people of holding onto the hope that God is not done with this world, that God is still working to bring about God’s realm, that God has not abandoned us in the brokenness of the world we know.
I deeply love this season and the paradox that it holds for us. I love that we as a community of faith are journeying together through this paradox–holding onto Immanuel (God with Us) given and Immanuel promised. God’s peace to you all.