Here we are again – my favorite liturgical season: Advent.
I love this time on the liturgical calendar.
This is our liminal season – that time when we know we are living in between what has been and what must be.
The prayer of the season is a simple, and yet very powerful one: Come, Lord Jesus.
That single word, come, expresses so much.
There is the urgency of it – the single, imperative, audacious plea that discloses some deep, often unspoken emotions: fear, disappointment, inadequacy, desperation, anxiety, and a few others.
It has the feel of a voice crying out for help, a voice that is overwhelmed by it all and is aware of how much must be done, how much is at stake in the getting it done, and how utterly ill-equipped we are or feel for getting it done.
Wars don’t end.
Hunger and poverty persist.
Racism and sexism and homophobia and xenophobia seem to gain new purchase every day.
We fight and we pray and we preach and we feed and we advocate and we hope and we organize and we work till we are bone-tired. We see new gains that give new hope only to watch as new leaders with new power and new mandates undo all the work that love and justice and hard work took decades to accomplish.
That word, that one word, that single syllable, stark and abrupt and rising from the bowels is spoken into being by a people who want to do all that love and justice requires but who have grown impatient and who wonder whether or not they can make any difference at all.
That word, that one word, that single syllable cries out not into a dark unknown, but with precision to the light we have come to know in and as Jesus. This is the light that shines in the darkness, and that darkness cannot over come. This is the word made flesh, spoken into being at the dawn of creation. This is the one embodying all that love imagined. This is Jesus.
We want to do what Jesus asks. Oh, how we want that. And day after day, year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation those who bend the knee to this one and who follow willingly the movement of his abiding Spirit continue to work for peace, for justice, for hope, and in love.
And once a year, come Advent, we orient ourselves toward a time to come when death and famine and war and oppression and poverty and bigotry and misogyny are no more. That orientation towards hope and longing instills within us the deep desire to already be there; the anguish of not being there; and the primal prayer that expresses all of that: Come, Lord Jesus.
O come, O come Emmanuel.
O come, O come desire of nations.
O come, O come thou dayspring.
O come, O come thou key of David.
We wait. And in the waiting we work. And in the work we pray. And in prayer we know that God is with us on this, our journey Into the Mystic.