The first of December! No sooner are the turkeys all eaten than the Christmas trees are being sold. Why is it that December seems the shortest month? Once Thanksgiving hits and the dishes are all washed up you know that it’ll be no time at all before its January. However long November seems with its rain and its chills December rushes by. There’s so much to do. So much to think about. So many worries.
Well December is here, and our feet are on the starting block and the race is about to start. We are waiting for the starting pistol to fire so we can be off and running—parties, presents, family, shopping, making ends meet. What are you looking forward to this December? What are you rushing towards? And what are you hoping will soon be over?
Advent is here too … and Jesus is rushing somewhere too. He’s pretty worked up about the coming of the Kingdom. He’s afraid we’re not going to be ready for it. Listen to him: “Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! Don’t be caught napping! Be on your guard!” The Church is wanting us to feel some of that urgent expectancy in Advent, wanting us to feel an ache in our guts, a longing in our hearts, a painful yearning in our lungs, for … something. What are we yearning for in Advent? Do we give a damn?
In Advent, if we do it properly—if we let it inhabit our bones—we will be caught between two moods. The first is there in Isaiah—to be calling with all our energy and breath on God to come back to us because he seems lost, seems to have gone, seems to have ceased to care. “Where are you God? Why have you left us alone? Why don’t you do the great things you once did? Why don’t we feel your presence and know you like we used to do?”
The other mood knows that what we pine for has already been given to us. “Thank God for all the gifts bestowed on us in Jesus. For our hope, our love, our friends, our community. Thank God that we have been called to join the family of Jesus.”
Advent is caught somewhere between these two moods. Between longing and fulfilment—between grief and gladness. December is like that too. Between panic and contentment, between longing for it all to happen and longing for it to all be over. Just living through December is a good way of living Advent! But what else can we do to make it real for us this year? Well in the words of Jesus: “Stay Awake!” Be aware of what you are feeling this month in the depths of yourself. All the gladness over the gifts you have been given, the riches of your life, the joy, the laughter. And all the longing for what is no longer here, the grieving for loss, the yearning for what only might be.
If we really feel—if we pine, if we rejoice—we will find ourselves doing the Advent thing—waiting, hoping, expecting. Waiting for a gift of God’s own giving. Hoping for a new life. Expecting a baby to be born in the dark of the year, a baby to bring light to our days.
Because we wait like this for one child to come among us—and because we know he already has—because of these things we can also welcome another child among us today, welcome ____________ to become one of us, a sister of Jesus Christ, and a sister and child of this community. Please pray for her and her family as we celebrate this sacrament now.