Advent: Peace

Erika Kobewka, Dec 04, 2020, 4:30 PM
Erika Kobewka Worship Leader

"The shipwrecked at the stable kneel in the presence of mystery. God entered into our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability and need. On a wintry night in an obscure cave, the infant Jesus was a humble, naked, helpless God who allowed us to get close to him."  Brennan Manning

As we all turn our calendars to December, we are collectively and individually stepping into the final month of the year 2020, a string of days that will crescendo and catapult us into Christmas.

Brennan Manning calls us, "the shipwrecked at the stable,"(1) arriving dishevelled and in disarray and perhaps traumatized with seaweed in our hair. Maybe residual mess is dripping from our water-logged pores and we're all smelling kinda fishy and kinda off but maybe we're kinda used to it because we've been treading water for so long. What an accurate image of this past year.

If you follow along with the Christian liturgical year, you have probably noticed that in contrast to our calendar year, the season of Advent lies at the beginning, not the end. Also known as the Cycle of Light, the Christian year begins in darkness with a spiritual posture of waiting and longing for the coming Christ. Then, moving gradually through the life of Jesus, it culminates in what we celebrate as Easter (Christ's death, resurrection and ascension), which steps into Pentecost, and then finally ends with months of 'Ordinary Time.'(2)

Advent begins with a waiting and worn-out people wandering in deep darkness and longing for the arrival of a Saviour. For all of us in the Northern Hemisphere, here we are in the darkest days of the year. Propelling ourselves, as we do each and every December, with all the grit and resilience we can muster towards the longest night of the year, knowing that things will shift. It won't be dark forever.

This is one of the gifts of Advent, a seasonal rhythm of remembering and turning ourselves towards the coming dawn and allowing glimpses and glimmers of relief and hope to wash over our lost and wandering hearts again. We are turning towards this Light.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

For most of us I think, we are regularly wading or being thrust into a current of anxiousness and fear that seems to be carving and winding through all of our lives and all around the world, on a macro and micro level. The toll of collective loss, grief, disappointments, unknowns, empty distractions, polarizing rhetoric, and hurts do not leave our personal lives untouched. We are a people wandering in the dark. Yet, at the heart of Advent lies the mystery of the incarnation: God is with us.

How appropriate that the good news of his coming is continually prefaced and announced with these three words, "Do not fear." Incarnational spirituality points to the Advent of our Christ, who entered our world in the way of vulnerability and great need: a naked, crying, hungry, rooting-to-be-fed-and-kept-warm baby. To us, the body of Christ, this is not a call to fearlessness, or a communal 'putting-on' of brave faces. Neither is it purely sentimental or a heralding of peace where there is no peace. It is an announcement of Christ's reign of peace and a call to peacemaking in our hearts and in our world.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end." Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)

This is the now-and-the-not-yet of Advent tucked within this wearying year and proclaimed to a wearied and shipwrecked people. In this tumultuous season where we feel capsized, adrift, and longing for a reprieve, we tether ourselves again to the hope of these three Advent's: Christ hascome, Christ is coming, Christ will come again. "Of this peace there will be no end," and oh, do we welcome it today.

(1) "The Shipwrecked at the Stable," from Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus
(2) "Advent: A Time When God Breaks In on Us," from Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year by Robert E. Webber
Image by Henry Osawa Tanner: The Holy Family


Larry Levy Atlantic Pastor

Thanks Erika for sharing your gift of thoughtful reflection again (we are using your Advent responsive readings again this year 8) )