Into being… The words that will guide us through the Advent-Christmas season come from the opening of John’s Gospel. This is the Gospel of John’s Christmas story, the story of the Word of God coming into our world. Read John’s words:
In the beginning there was the Word;
the Word was in God’s presence,
and the Word was God.
The Word was present to God
from the beginning.
Through the Word
all things came into being,
and apart from the Word
nothing came into being
that has come into being.
In the Word was life,
and that life was humanity’s light—
a Light that shines in the darkness,
a Light that the darkness has never overtaken.
(Inclusive Bible Translation)
I find myself hanging onto these words as we approach the 2021 Advent season. There has been a weariness in our world ever since May 2020 when the pandemic began to uproot so much of our lives. Of course, for many people weariness was already a constant—as we read our sacred story it is clear that weariness is nothing new.
But this year, particularly, I find myself longing to move beyond what has been lost. I am tired of simply naming all that is broken in our world, our city, our lives. I’m ready to lean a little further into what can be—a vision of light shining in the most challenging of times and refusing to be overtaken, illuminating God’s vision for our world. It’s not a denial of loss and brokenness, it is a desire to hope for something more and a new determination to join the Word in making that something new coming into being in our own time and place.
It’s a determination we will hear on the first three Sundays of Advent as we reflect on the words of the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah. They write to their people in a time of exile after the Babylonians had taken the nation of Judah and forced many Judeans to resettle in Babylon (modern day Iraq). Out of the destruction of what was, these prophets envision new life emerging in exile and encourage their people to work and pray for that vision to come to be, not just for themselves, but for the new people they call neighbours and might one day call friends and even family. It’s the Word of God shedding light on the world to bring renewed life into being.
As I reflect on these prophetic words, I find myself longing for their vision—a confident assurance that even amidst the weariness of our world (and there is so much we can and should name that is wrong with our world right now)… even in the darkness, the light of the Word shines and, with our help, the light can grow and fill the earth again. But, that begins by stirring within ourselves the kind of confident vision we find in the prophets—we have to envision what a world filled with the light and love of God looks like and then have the audacity to believe such a world can come into being.
That’s the point of Advent, to name what we anticipate, and then to dare to believe it can come into being if we’re willing to partner with the Word to make it be. Only if like Mary and Joseph, we dare to get involved. Only if like the shepherds and magi we’re not afraid to let a light-filled vision guide us to unexpected places. Only then will the Word begin to come into being in our lives, our city, our world.
I’m ready to open myself to a renewed vision, to celebrate the enteral Word of God that is among us, and to believe with confidence that light and life and love will come into being out of all that is lost and broken in our lives and world today.
This Advent, may a renewed vision come into being through the light of the Word. Amen.