Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

The first in a series of Advent Reflections

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This is the first of a series of short Advent reflections.


Advent is my favorite season of the church year… or perhaps it’s better to say that Advent is the season that best captures the lives we lead. Advent tells the truth about contemporary life.


And what is that truth: That we are a people crossing a desert yearning for water, that we are people waiting in the dark hoping for light. That’s been my experience of life in the last half of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st.


We have this sense that life is out of joint, that despite all the progress human beings have made, things could be better. Yes. We’ve made tremendous progress against disease, yet so many people lack basic health care. Yes. People yearn to breathe free. Democracy is the model for people everywhere. Yet so many countries have authoritarian leaders and little in the way of human rights. Yes. We’ve made war unthinkable. Modern weapons are dreadfully destructive. Yet more than 50 armed conflicts are taking place across the globe. Yes. We love to spend time outside, to enjoy the gifts of nature. Our world is so beautiful. Yet our modern lifestyle threatens our very ability to live on the planet.


Advent captures the waiting, the longing, the not-quite-yet sense of our lives and tells us to have hope, that help is on the way.


Advent also invites us to think about how we might spend our time as we wait. It’s not idle time. It’s not passive time. It’s a time, especially a time, when we are called to live now as signs of the world that is coming. We are called to live now according to the values of the Christ who is coming.


As the Gospel for the first Sunday of Advent puts it, “...you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” There may be signs. There may be storms in heaven and on earth, but the coming of the Christ cannot be predicted. Therefore, keep alert. Or as our Presiding Bishop would say it, “Keep the faith.”

As you go about your daily lives, eating and drinking, working, celebrating family life, keep the faith. Keep loving God and neighbor. Keep treating one another as you would wish to be treated. Keep serving as signs of the Christ who is coming. That way we will be ready when he comes – at an unexpected time, even like a thief in the night. Your faith will welcome the Christ when he comes.