Advent is the beginning of the Church Year, and for good reason. It is the beginning of the life of the Jesus Community that later becomes the Church. However, like Star Wars, the beginning of our story is actually smack dab in the middle of the overarching story of the community of the God of Israel.
It’s curious that the first Star Wars movie was called “A New Hope,” as that is precisely what the season of Advent observes: the anticipation of the fulfillment of GOd’s promise to restore the people of Israel in independence, peace, justice, and harmony with the outside world.
The community Moses led out of slavery in Egypt and into covenant relationship with God into the promised land; the community pillaged and exiled by Babylon and tossed between empires, was the community to which Jesus belonged. It is his birth we anticipate each year in Advent, and celebrate the fact that God comes to be with us in the darkest moments of our lives, to suffer with us, and to lead us into the fulness of love. It is the season looking for the coming of Emmanuel.
Much of Christian history has seen Advent as a kind of “mini-Lent,” a season of repentance anticipating the Second Coming of Jesus. Perhaps this takes away from the significance of the fulfillment of promises God makes to us, and the gift of God’s presence in our reality. It’s a time to wonder with the people of Israel; a time to share the courage and hope alongside fear with Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and the shepherds as they are shown what God has in store.
Advent is a time of anticipation; of hope in darkness of the overthrow of the love of power with the power of love. May we ponder this hope as we make our way this month to the celebration of the Incarnation of God’s anointed one, whom we call Jesus. Have a blessed Advent!