The word “advent”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” “Advent” as a word has taken on such a religious meaning such that it seems odd to consider using it any other way. No one awaits the “advent” of a long-awaited parcel delivery. A groom might anticipate the “advent” of his bride on wedding day, but I’ve never heard a groom talk that way.
“Advent” in a spiritual and theological sense means for us that “God shows up.” (That’s my definition, not Oxford’s.) In the Advent and Christmas seasons, we celebrate the fact that God shows up. We acknowledge the signs that God has shown up: hope, peace, joy, and love.
Our current sermon series Keeping Christmas Well gives us a look at the nativity story through the lens of Charles Dickens’ classic work, A Christmas Carol. Like Scrooge, we have an opportunity to reflect on our past, present, and future. How have we experienced God’s hope, peace, joy, and love in our past? In our present? How will we do so in the future?
God has worked in our past; is working in our present; and will be at work in our future. We claim this truth every time we speak the words of the communion liturgy together: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
In our yesterdays of success and disappointment, God shows up. In our present full of opportunities and obstacles, God shows up. In our tomorrows full of potential we hope for and fears we imagine, God shows up.
Take advantage of this season and fortify your faith through worship, prayer, study, and service with this one simple truth: no matter what, no matter when, no matter how… God shows up, especially when you find it hard to believe it to be so.