It is the third day of Advent. This Sunday was one of the few Sundays I missed attending church. I wasn’t liturgically called into our season of waiting. Instead I spent my Sunday waiting in traffic and counting down miles of Interstate as my family and I made our trek home from seeing family and friends in Maryland.
Our time in the car wasn’t entirely profane. Sarah and I read our Advent devotionals and scripture out loud on our drive. It gave us a brief respite from the monotonous nature of modern travel, with its scenery cropped back and nothing left to look at except a steady stream of billboards and Cracker Barrels. It was time out of time–time to reflect on what it means to wait for God’s coming. The gospels called us back to the story of Jesus the Incarnate One; the prophets reminded us of His final coming when all will be set right.
Yesterday I went to my community garden plot and checked the progress there. A few seedlings pushed their way to the surface in my absence, spinach and pea plants poking through the earth. My other plants were healthy and growing. Other places I lived, my garden would be dormant right now (perhaps a woody kale plant hanging on through the frost). My metaphorical frame for the season has changed. Instead of leafless deciduous trees and frozen ground, I have a garden striving toward full potential–life and fruitfulness and world of green. In either case, the point is the same: all of creation groans, and we ourselves, the first fruits of the Spirit, as we eagerly await our full adoption a God’s children and the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22-23).
There is a telos (a goal or end) for the story we find ourselves in. We all wait to see our destination on life’s road, to see our own gardens teeming. But this season is more than waiting for our arrival and full potentiality. It is about waiting for the coming of the Lord. Two thousand years ago God came near in Jesus Christ and changed the trajectory of human history. For now we wait. Christ has died, Christ has Risen, Christ will come again.
There have been predictions of the end being nigh, false prophets spouting off the day and hour of Christ’s return. Jesus is coming soon. Maybe. But with certainty I can say, “Jesus is coming sooner.” We don’t know with certainty when we will reach home, when God breaks in, and creation reaches its end. We do know it is one day closer than yesterday. Jesus is coming sooner.
To me this is the joy and invitation of Advent. We remember Jesus first coming and we remind ourselves to live like He is coming back, because He is.This mean care for those around us, nurturing of our relationships, welcoming others into God’s hospitality and loving one another well. Take some time to listen for creation’s groan as we long for Christ’s coming and our true home.
God there is so many things that drive us to distraction. Some them are seasonal: Christmas shopping, holiday traffic, the hustle and bustle. Some are personal: family struggles, vocational crises, broken relationships, hopes deferred and deep disappointments. Some of them corporate: Injustice, War, Terror, Poverty, and Apathy for the Vulnerable. We cry, “how long O Lord?” We remember your coming and we long for your coming again–your second Advent. When all sorrow and suffering will cease. Amen