Traditionally, Advent is described as an annual season of “waiting” for God historically sending Jesus as a person (the baby Jesus) and for Jesus then coming again at some unknown point in time. The Advent season covers the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and the days past the fourth Sunday through Christmas Eve.
My Advent Perspective
I prefer to think of Advent as an annual time to spend a month reflecting and acting upon the hope, peace, joy, and love that Jesus showed and taught us. These are God’s profound gifts to us. Importantly, as Jesus’ followers, we are called to actively implement and share these characteristics daily. For me, Advent is a time of meditative remembrance, reflection, gratitude, and focus on how Jesus taught and showed us to live in response to God’s love. The result is a deep-rooted peacefulness beyond understanding.
Let’s Not “Wait” on Living by Following
In Mark 1:15, Jesus in his time announced that “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” which meant then and means now that it is time to “repent.” Jesus then encountered Peter and others and said: “Follow me” (Mark 1:17). Like Jesus’ early disciples, we too should follow him by “repenting,” which means turning our lives around to live a radically changed life in accordance with Jesus’ model and teachings. Our response action to God’s love is never something to “wait” on in any part or time of our lives. Rather, we should live with an urgent imperative to actively love others, seek justice, and bring the hope, joy, and peace that God grants us to others.
Let’s Not “Wait” on Jesus
Later in Mark 13, Jesus talked to his contemporary followers with striking apocalyptic, “end times” imagery to grab their attention. He said that “this [i.e., his] generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place” (Mark 13:30). How can that be? Some Christians continue to anticipate a so-called “second coming” of Jesus, as a sacred finality of sorts. While respecting other opinions, I have a very different viewpoint.
Jesus did come again in that first Christian generation. He unexpectedly rose from the dead and appeared to his frightened followers. John 20 tells us that after his resurrection, Jesus appeared and “breathed” the “Holy Spirit” into his followers, and they “received it” (John 20:22). As disciples now, God also breathes his spiritual presence into and, when we allow it, through us. God is with and in us. If we choose to authentically follow Jesus, endeavoring to put his teachings into practical day-to-day action, God walks the narrow path with us. That does not mean life is then easy and uncomplicated. Instead, it means we are never alone.
So, Who Might be Waiting in All Seasons of Our Lives?
Alongside us in our daily hard work, God enables us to practice now what Jesus started over 2000 years ago, filling us with his peace along the way. If there is any waiting involved, perhaps God is waiting on us to truly live in the qualitative way Jesus taught and showed us.