What I’m Thinking: Advent, Expectation, and Hope

As we enter the season of Advent, I’m thinking about… well, Advent. And expectation. And hope.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about Advent. I’m thinking about expectation. And I’m thinking about hope.

I’m thinking about Advent because Advent begins this coming Sunday: a new season of the Church year; indeed, a new Church year. In Advent, we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The lectionary readings, however, do not recount the preparation for the actual birth of Jesus. In fact, in the thirteenth chapter of Mark (Mark 13:24-37) Jesus himself was the speaker, speaking during the last week of his life. This is one of Jesus’ apocalyptic addresses, talking about the return of Jesus, although, curiously enough, he doesn’t refer to himself. He talks about the emergence of “the Son of Man,” a figure familiar to Jews of the first century from other kinds of writings, including the book of Daniel.

But this is where the expectation comes in. The first century Christians from the words of Jesus and from the guidance of the Holy Spirit that they had received fully expected the return of Christ and the remaking of the world to happen at any time. When the fig tree puts forth its shoots you know that summer is near, Jesus said in Mark 13.

Likewise the Apostle Paul, writing some years later to his friends in Corinth, wrote with the expectation that they would all see this return of Christ and this ending of the world they had known to be replaced by the world of which they dreamed.

Where I find the hope is in some words that Paul addressed to those Corinthians: that they lacked nothing of spiritual gifts.

That actually sounds a little curious to me knowing what Paul would say to the Corinthians later on in that letter and then in the second letter that we have. He had some rather pointed things to say about their behavior and their ethics and their theology. But he began by assuring them that they lacked nothing of spiritual gifts.

And that is my hope. My hope is whatever we might expect of the things that we cannot fully envision – Jesus warned, in fact, that nobody knew the day or the hour, including the Son, including himself – nevertheless there are other things that we expect but cannot know the day or the hour. The hope is that the Holy Spirit is with us, that Jesus is with us, that God is with us, to fill us with what we need to endure the trials and the hardships with which we’re so familiar, and to be fully prepared to celebrate when the joys and the wonders emerge.

So whatever manifestations of God’s blessings may come to us in our lifetimes, let us wait for them in hope that we lack nothing of the spiritual gifts with which to celebrate.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on November 23, 2020

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