Everyone knows what Christmas is, or we used to know before layers of mass commercialism and nebulous celebration emerged to replace it. Few know what Advent is about, even those of us in the church, who attend these Sundays, and see the four candles lit each of the Sundays. Hope, peace, love and joy are candle-themes, right? It is about anticipation, preparation, right?
Still, it is not so simple. What do you say to the person who asks you, why must we spend four weeks pretending Jesus hasn’t been born yet when we full well know he has? Or what do we do with these gnarly assigned texts, with primitive John the Baptizer shouting repent, or strange and numinous apocalyptic texts, like the one that Benjamin preached so well with last Sunday?
Sally Bassler and I decided to make available a guide to help you sort your way through Advent. It is Awaiting the Already: An Advent Journey through the Gospels by the Rev. Magrey de Vega. We will have some on the table as you come through the front doors Sunday or at Coffee Hour. If you’re interested, make a donation, take it home with you, and let it enrich your Advent walk.
The book is about preparing for Christ’s arrival one Gospel at a time. After all, the four Gospels say different things in anticipation of Jesus’ birth. DeVega summarizes the message each brings:
- Mark would have us slow down, turn around and prepare the way for Jesus’ to come.
- Matthew would have us confront, not ignore, the reality of a hurting world to see Jesus.
- Luke would have us sing out—songs of obedience, songs of praise, and songs of silence.
- John would have us see anew the Light in our darkness, and become a gift unto others.
The goal is to help your knowledge of what parts of the Christmas story come from each Gospel, and to better equip you to enjoy the oddness of Advent, waiting for a Christ who is already here.
She likens Advent to days before digital cameras, when we had to wait for pictures to develop. “Of all the seasons in the Christian year, “Magrey writes, “it best captures the dynamic tension between the present and the future, in a way that fills us with hopeful anticipation in the present. When we journey to Bethlehem, it’s not that we think Jesus has not been born, and it’s not just that we believe Jesus will come again. It is about opening a freshly developed set of beloved photographs.”
If we exhaust our supply of books, and you want one, let us know. We will order more. This first Sunday of the month is a Food First Sunday, so don’t forget canned and dried food items to feed the hungry around us. I look forward to beginning the journey with you at the Lord’s Table.
-Rev. Dale Rosenberger