Psalm 146 Isaiah 1: 1-9 2 Peter 3: 1-10 Matthew 25: 1-13
Leaning into Advent
When we read the lessons for this first day of Advent in the Daily Office, we see that they each describe a state of leaning. The image for me is one of leaning forward, leaning into the future, leaning towards something that we might not quite see or know just yet, but leaning nonetheless. The lesson from Isaiah (1: 1-9) describes the beginning of his vision which describes the destruction of his time - "cities burned with fire; in your very presence aliens devour your land" - but which also names the fact that God has left "a few survivors," there in that desolate place. Even in the midst of turmoil and destruction, God has left a green shoot which will grow and thrive. The image also points to our own time, time of trouble, time of turmoil, time of dissention, time of dividing differences. But we should be reminded that God has provided a green shoot, a bit of hope even in the midst of chaos and change - and a bit of hope is all that is needed. A bit of faith is all that is needed.
Also in the 2nd letter of Peter we hear words that offer the image of leaning, a leaning forward to a time when Christ will return. The feet are firmly planted, but the body leans forward in hope and faith to a time of judgment, a time of reckoning, when God will return. And this time will come "like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire." All things will change, something new will happen, gloriously new, and we shall be filled with awe. Our leaning forward in this time of Advent leads us into the deep understanding that God will break in upon this world in a new way, and also, incredibly, that God is always breaking into this world in a new way.
This new way of God breaking into the world should put us into a state of wakefulness, of mindfulness, of deep awareness. The gospel of Matthew tells the story of the 10 wise bridesmaids who are ready, and are leaning forward into the future, they are ready for the groom who will return at any minute. The sense of waiting in anticipation, with expectation, is charged with the knowledge that God is always becoming known to us in new ways, are we really ready? "Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."
These Advent readings help us to lean forward into a state of eager anticipation and expectation. Get ready!
~The Rev. Peter M. Carey