This season of Advent begins with a surprising word from God. The Gospel reading for the first weekend in Advent is made up of surprising word pictures of heaven and earth all coming apart at the seams, all that we know and count on disrupted and changed (Luke 21:25-36). In that disruption and picture of divine interruption we hear a word of hope. We hear in this season that the Christ has already been born, has already lived and died for us, and comes here now among us each and every day as the light in our darkness. He comes as the one who makes a new creation out of the ashes and remnants of the old. So, we sing in this season marvelous songs of hopefulness, joy and anticipation. We look for God again, knowing that even as wildfire rages or children die, as hopes are dashed or wars are waged, as evil rages or loved ones leave—the light, the true light has not gone out. The light, our true light, still shines. We look for it. We sing about it. We invite others into it. We share it within family and friendships. And we stay alert and wide-eyed to everything that is happening to and around us for what God is bringing, for what God hopes to usher in, and for what God wants us to see.
We often ask why such interruptions and disruptions plague our world. Perhaps they happen because we live in a world where the fault lines of sin run through all that is. Perhaps they happen because things that we assumed would be forever unchanged are, in reality, transient and temporary. We live in a world where we know that any day all that we have relied upon, trusted, counted on and looked forward to could be taken away or turned on its ear. Jesus knows it—we know it—and he teaches us in this world how to live with it. He teaches us how to grow through it and how to serve in it. And it is in that living, growing and serving that hope begins to shine. When the world as you know it falls apart, when even the day seems darkened and the night never-ending—look! Look for what God is doing. Look for God’s nearness, for when there seems to be no other source of light in your darkness, God is there as he has always been. Jesus said, “When you see these things taking place, you will know that he is near, at the very gates”…at the doorstep of your heart and at the threshold of your hopes. Look for him, he is near. And though everything else might pass away, God won’t.
The birth of Jesus, the most spectacular divine interruption of all time, invites us to hold an audacious and abundant hopefulness in all things. God is here with us. God is here for us. God meets us in the most humble and humbling of circumstances. God meets us in times of strength and success. God meets us always with a vision, a hope, and a call that transforms our tomorrows. Hallelujah! Gloria in excelsis Deo!