Sharing Advent Hope

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Next week begins Advent, the start of a new liturgical year, and the celebration of what is to come. Most of you are probably eagerly anticipating a new year following 2020 with more hope than ever before. Advent this year has me considering the juxtaposition of the vital role physical presence played in the first Christmas, with the role physical presence is playing as we enter Advent 2020. This year, when physical presence has been somewhat impossible for so many of us, has seemed to renew the importance of being in the flesh.

Perhaps this is why this year has been so difficult. We are made in God’s image, made for relationship. In redeeming the world, God sent his Son incarnate, to be made flesh. Living in relationship is what we are made for and how we dwell. This year hasn’t only been a loss of events, but a hindrance to our natural need for incarnational relationship.

But our hope is not lost. We are living in the now and the not yet. We recognize this current reality is not the way things will always be. We await, we hope, and we draw near. Even in the midst of this pandemic, we are learning how to be present, and to represent Jesus. Our churches are reaching out in tangible ways and relationship continues– this is the heart of the Gospel.

As we near, hopefully, the end of this pandemic, consider how we might live incarnationally with those around us­– how might your witness, or your caring word or text, still embody Jesus’ presence in your life?

This Advent is an opportunity to focus on the hope of what is to come. Advent 2020 is most likely going to be slower than previous years due to canceled events, but take the opportunity to sit with the Lord, to dwell on his story of incarnation, to welcome him in to closed spaces in your life, and to then reach out to others through the Spirit. Let them know Jesus came here for them, for you, and God is still in control; there is always hope.

For those of you looking to enter into Advent more intentionally, consider these resources:

  • To enter into household rhythms and traditions during Advent: A Thrill of Hope by Ashley Wallace;
  • To understand the liturgical calendar: Ancient Future Time by Robert Webber;
  • To continue the study of holiness and the fullness of God, and an Advent read recommended by Bishop Neil: Rediscovering Holiness, by J.I. Packer;
  • As always, we encourage you to complete Morning Prayer and/or Compline as you are able (see the Book of Common Prayer), using the assigned readings for the day;
  • Consider reading one chapter of Luke per day in December (there are 24) together as a household or online with friends, discussing what you notice, why it matters, and how it affects your life today in how you are present with others (what/ so what/ now what).