I think I understand Advent now. At my house, we are anticipating the arrival of the newest member of Rutba House. As we await this new baby, I’ve noticed myself, and my housemates, hoping for her arrival as soon as possible. The pregnancy has been difficult in a variety of ways, and so we keep praying for her to arrive early, to come swiftly. Never in my life have I anticipated the birth of a baby so much, and maybe that’s because I’ve never lived with anyone about to have a baby, having been the youngest myself. I looked forward to my nephew coming, but being far away made it difficult to have the same tangible readiness. Additionally, this baby has a sense of urgency in that we all just want the delivery to be smooth and healthy. The last one with the same mother was almost 2 weeks late, and so we have a large amount of impatience and desire for this one to come early.
This is Advent. Whoever decided to celebrate the four weeks prior to Christ’s birth must have known this same sense of urgency that a mother and family feels before the birth of a child. In a sense what we are doing is empathizing with Mary, who I’m sure had her own nervousness and anticipation about who she was about to give birth to. We (ought to) want Jesus to come, and to look forward to his coming with hope and excitement. We are guilty of wanting him to come on our timing, though hoping for his early arrival is nothing to be ashamed of. And yet, Christ’s second coming requires the same sort of watchfulness. We pray for Christ to come quickly, to bring about his kingdom fully on Earth. Though Jesus uses imagery like virgins waiting for a bridegroom or a thief in the night, I think it makes sense to think of Christ’s second coming like the first-a birth of the new creation. Paul writes about the birth pangs of creation, for the birth of our restored creation is coming. Advent, then, is a bi-focal celebration. We remember the birth of Christ with excitement and longing at the same time looking forward to his return.
Lord Jesus, quickly come.
(Fay Marie, quickly come).