Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Twelfth Day of Advent: The Light of the Past, Lights the Present

The Old Testament has so much to say to us in Advent.  The history of the people of Israel is our history.  The history of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and all other peoples from the ancient past are our stories too.  They are all God’s story from the perspective of faith—a history not measured by a calendar, but by God’s on-going activity and purpose in the midst of a shattered and wounded world. 

Jeremiah, Amos, Isaiah, Hosea and Habakkuk, and a host of others, in the midst of their troubled times, announced that God was present and active in it all. We can disparage that historical record by saying it is simply a collection of silly stories, as many do, or we can accept their witness as true and become open to what God may be doing in our own time and situation.  If God was active then, God is active now.  Advent is all about discerning how God comes to us in the present moment.

This discernment is often short-circuited by our thinking that Advent is about waiting for Christmas to come.  Bethlehem’s story is history—it is not the end of the story.  God came then, yes, but God has continued to come through 2000 years of history since, and God comes now in this moment.  “Can you not perceive it?” 

Now I show you new things,
hidden things which you did not know before.
They were not created long ago,
but in this very hour;
you had never heard of them 
before today! (Isaiah 48:6-7)

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