Every year, Advent begins in the dark. This is the enduring refrain of Fleming Rutledge in her Advent writings. I’m currently reading her gigantic tome on Advent. This book is so rich. I’m 15% through and could quote so many parts of it already.
In it, she quotes Karl Barth who asked “What other time or season can or will the Church ever have but that of Advent!” That seems to be even more poignant this year than ever - we are entering into a season of waiting after what seems to be an entire year of waiting. We are navigating the limbo of Advent whilst experiencing a collective limbo. Anticipating the hope of Christmas as we anticipate so many things: a vaccine, an end to lockdown, a time when we can gather together again as a community.
Advent is a time for thinking about the tense in which we live. In our Bible readings, we look back to the thread of promises in scripture, pointing to the coming of Jesus. Advent is certainly a time of nostalgia, especially coming as it does at the end of the year. But in the liturgical year, advent actually marks the start of a new year. And we also have all those strange readings about the second coming which we hear on the Sundays in advent. Looking ahead, anticipating Jesus’ return. But advent is a time for now - resting in the tension between the tenses, facing the realities of where we are now.
This is the three-fold reality of these winter days:
Gazing at the Stump of Jesse and counting the rings. Looking backwards into the old familiar stories to see where he came from, perhaps, too, where we come from.
The coming apocalypse. Waiting for the revealing of the hidden things. A break in the darkness of the longest night.
Is where we are now. In the now and not-yet. The end of one year, the beginning of another. Forever in the in between at the turning point.
Welcome to the Adventure.