Advent Week I, 2010
by the Rev. Lisa Mason
Advent is here, and with this season comes expectation. We find ourselves hopeful, anxious, and looking forward to what lies ahead. But who or what is it that we are expecting?
Our scripture readings during Advent speak of a radical new way of living; a new life full of the promise of reconciliation, peace, light, and love. This is a world in which the wolf shall lie down with the lamb, swords will be beaten down into plowshares, spears shall become pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and crooked pathways will be made straight.
We are called to be participants in this new way of life. With the birth of the Christ child, we are called to be aware of God’s presence in all of our words and actions. We are called to be people who are about the work of reconciling the world to God and to one another. This is big work. Is this what we are expecting?
In the midst of this time of expectation, the world speaks of a different type of expectation, one that involves finding the perfect gift that will satisfy even the hardest person on your list. Christmas tree lots are opening so that the tree and trimmings can be better than ever. Department stores are filling our senses with decorations and piped carols to put us in the right frame of mind to frenetically consume all that we expect that we might need to make it the perfect “Norman Rockwell” Christmas scene. But is this the same expectancy that scripture speaks about? On this journey to Bethlehem, which expectations are we going to live into?
Mary and Joseph had hard choices to make — to say yes to God’s call in their lives despite the challenges they would face in their community. We too, can choose to say yes to God’s call in our lives regardless of the expectations placed on us by society.
With the birth of the Christ child in a lowly manger, life is changed. We are given the gift of letting our hearts be opened to the possibility that we can live life in a radical new way. To even begin to live into the gifts given to us by God, we must be willing to be humble and vulnerable to the reality that these gifts change us. We no longer can get by with a self-centered certainty of entitlement; rather we must seek, serve, and love our neighbor. God gives us the courage and the strength to carry this new way of living into a new year.
These are the expectations awaiting us in Advent. And when we forget and fall into places of darkness on our journey time after time, God gives us the opportunity to begin again. That is the gift of God’s grace and mercy.
As we experience Advent, may we pray that our hearts are expectant so they may be opened to learn to love as Christ desires us to love!
The Rev. Lisa Mason is assistant rector at St. David’s, San Antonio. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.