We are an impatient people. We hate waiting. We want the things we want - now. We rush to build careers, rush to get married - to find love. We can’t wait for weekends. In the world of social media and the endless news cycle, we rush to judgments and criticisms. We speak without thinking, without waiting.
We sit on the edge of a precipice, ready to leap at the slightest provocation, expecting that whatever awaits us on the other side will quickly catch us so that we never really run true risk. It’s the hallmark of entitlement.
It’s no wonder that the one season of spiritual and liturgical time dedicated to waiting is one that almost no one pays attention to anymore, let alone honors. Advent shouldn’t just be for Christian folk. It should be for everyone. Sadly, some Christian folk don’t even bother with the season. And the world is worse off because we don’t show it what it means to slow down. To wait. To wait in hope.
I’ve become convinced that beneath the frenzy of our lives, there lingers either carelessness or hopelessness. Either we don’t care about what the future holds, or we dare not hope. And this is a terrible indictment of a culture that has lost its spiritual center.
We don’t seem to have a problem pausing in momentary and transient celebration. We can do so in the most hedonistic and overindulgent ways. And we don’t seem to have any issues with stopping to momentarily mourn something or someone that has passed away - even though we often do it with a moribund nostalgia.
But we aren’t a culture that thinks ahead to future hope, unless of course it involves career trajectories and marriage plans and long term retirement plans for investment.
Advent hope is different. Without a future vision of the day that the world becomes whole, when peace and justice reign, when wars shall cease and all will be well - what do we have to work for?
The Christian season of Advent is a time not only of remembering, but of hoping. We remember the coming of our teacher and Lord Jesus in his earthly life, and we await the return of that hope in a future time when the Creation will be restored at the return of the Christ consiousness.
For the non-Christian world, our celebration of Advent should be a witness to a hope that transcends the particulars of Christian faith, and offers a pause in our lives to reflect. Just what DO we hope will become of us? What is our part in that future hope?
Can we pause from the busy-ness of the world and its preoccupations long enough to indulge in hopes and dreams that one day the world will find its center again and make peace instead of war? Where we will ensure that all have enough?
Can we pause long enough to think about a vision of a world that is restored and pulled back from its folly? Where we will no longer take out our anxieties for enough on our fragile planet?
Can we take a break from the frenzy of our lives, day in and day out, to consider that the future we bequeath to our children ought to be one of hope rather than hopelessness, and are we willing to take the time to offer them that vision here and now?
Advent is a season for hope. A hope remembered, a hope restored, and a hope renewed in the midst of care and worry. Take some time to pause and reflect.
What in the world do you look forward to?