Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Excited Hopeful Anticipation

Rev. James Isaacs
I am learning a lot about Advent this year.

Sometime soon—probably anytime this week or next week—my wife and I are expecting the birth of our first child. We have spent months urgently working hard to try to get everything ready so that when the baby is born, and we do this parenting thing for the first time, we will be ready. And now mostly what is left to do is to wait.

And so we are waiting. We are both still doing the things in our lives that need to get done. We are still going to work. We are still doing errands. We are still doing many of the same things that we were doing before the pregnancy. Yet whatever we do, there is an anticipation of the birth that will begin at anytime. I jump to answer my cell phone whenever it rings because it could be my wife calling me to tell me that the time has come.

Advent is a season of hopeful expectation as we prepare to celebrate Christ coming into the world and as we await Christ’s return in full glory. As I eagerly wait for the birth of our child, I am experiencing the feelings of joyous and hopeful anticipation that the liturgical season of Advent evokes in us spiritually.

As we hear this season of John crying out in the wilderness, I am challenged to prepare myself for the coming of Christ no less than I have been preparing for the coming of my child. We are called to turn away from those things that draw our focus away from the love of God. We are reminded to examine our lives and let go of the sinful, hurtful, and destructive ways that we live or treat others to prepare ourselves. We can also prepare by reading and meditating on the scripture passages in the lectionary through the Advent season.

And as we do the normal things that we have to or want to do, the Church reminds us to do them with a sense of anticipation present in our minds. To nurture this awareness within us, it may be helpful to make time within our lives to pause and be intentional about being in God’s presence with contemplative prayer. We can spend time pondering the wonderful works that God has already done in our lives and anticipate the joy of God being fully present in all areas of our lives. We can also surround ourselves with reminders of this time of anticipation, such as Advent calendars or Advent candles lit at a meal each day in our homes, to help us maintain a spirit of joyful expectation.

Christ is coming into the world. Now is the time for us to prepare and wait. Let us rejoice and be glad of it.

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[The Rev. James S. Isaacs is the Assistant Rector at St. James’, Potomac and is a congregational consultant specializing in assisting churches to work through change and conflict in healthy ways.]