It's a time focused on waiting; expecting; anticipating. There was a time when a people awaited the birth of Christ; a Deliver from God. Today, Advent offers to me the space to remember that birth, but perhaps more so to dwell in the in- between space of anticipation and fruition. Advent invites me to reflect on miracles I've experienced in my life and those miracles yet to come. Advent invites me to wait, with joy; with hope, for what God will birth in my life next. Ironically, Advent begins during the darkest days of our seasons including the longest and darkest night of the year. Advent will end as the world (at least in our hemisphere!) begins a slow journey back toward the light. This metaphor is not lost on the journey of my own life today.
Reverend Shelby offered us two thoughts this morning for the first Sunday of Advent. One, that Advent reminds us of Immanuel, "God with us." I think of "the Alpha and Omega" names for God. God has been and will always be with us. And, Advent creates a hope and longing for God to show up in our lives now in ways we haven't known before. Reverend Shelby also offered the beautiful reminder that God also finds favor with us. I felt particular connection to this truth. Gabriel told Mary that she had found favor with God. As special as the mother of Jesus was, she is not the only one among us who is highly favored. We are all the favored of God; simply because we are God's Beloved.
I'll close with Mary's song from Luke, chapter one. My words would be different than hers, but the song is the same: one of joy and gratitude in the midst of the unknown and fear.
46 And Mary said:
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”