The Extraordinary Moment of Advent
-by Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister
“The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the wind chill factor.
But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of yourself somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.”
I have always loved the way Frederick Buechner freshly illuminates familiar Christian terms. His narrative about Advent is marvelous. It reminds us that Advent is not simply some busy and routine precursor to Christmas, but an “extraordinary moment” all its own.
These are the days when we pause to name our deepest hope for the world. This is that remarkable time when we dare to have breathtaking expectations for what lies ahead. This is that precious moment when we trust with all that is in us that God can accomplish with blazing love and purpose what we can no longer even imagine.
I need that quality of Advent this year. I need the courage to summon hope in a world that often invites despair. I need that unshakable faith that trusts God to overcome the madness. I long for the child-like wonder that has me searching with wide eyes and trembling heart for some sign of the gloriously unexpected. I need Advent.
What hopes and dreams are you carrying with you this Advent? What are you waiting for with bated breath? What places and circumstances are you trusting God to transform?
O God of infinite wonder and mystery, we hold our breath in these days of Advent, waiting to see what new miracles you can work in our lives. We watch with hope for your grace-filled interventions when despair threatens. We dare to believe peace is possible, even as simmering tensions erupt in new violence all around us. We persist in love, though ugly hatred seems increasingly the norm in our tattered world. O God, stir within us your incomparable joy, rooted in the promises you never fail to keep. In the name of Him who is hope and peace and love personified, we boldly pray. Amen.