Advent is probably my favorite time of year. In part, I love the Christmas carols and anticipation of the coming of Christ.
Along with that, I love the readings from Isaiah, with their apocalyptic and hopeful expression of what Christians desire: not just the coming of Christ, but the transformation of the whole world into the Kingdom God desires, of peace and plenty, of joy and fullness.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.....
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea. (Isaiah 11:6,9)
So, Advent is the time of waiting, but not just waiting. We wait for the Kingdom of God, but we wait with great longing and hope. Waiting implies that we sit passively by; longing gets to the heart of our patient waiting, the anticipation, hope, and desire that accompanies our awaiting the coming of Christ.
It is also a time of preparation and transformation. We long for God's reign, and our longing changes us. We pray that our hearts are ready to receive the King, that we are ready to be active participants in the life for which we long. We want to be better, holier ... to be ready for Jesus to take over our lives.
Advent, too, brings out our hopes for the future. Like Isaiah, we picture a world of peace and freedom, where truly we can be the people God created us to be. We imagine and desire the world to be freed of all that divides us from each other, all that limits our peace. We want to know all that we can know about God, to experience the light that God brings to the world when the Son enters human history on Christmas day.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 40:5)
Stay tuned for further thoughts on Advent and the life of a novice...