“Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” – Luke 21:28 (NRSV)
A friend told me she finds Advent frustrating. Every year we lift our heads, stand on tiptoe, watch for Christ to bring in the new age, and nothing happens. After 2,000 years, her toes are starting to go numb, her enthusiasm’s waning. Advent feels sort of routine.
Scripture says that for God, a thousand years are like a day. By divine standards, we have short attention spans. If Advent feels routine, maybe we have a skewed sense of time. But it could also be that we’re harboring the illusion that we’re OK. Even amid pandemics and wars and political upheaval, we persist in that delusion. Maybe we get tired of waiting because we don’t really need what we’re waiting for.
I go through my days with my Visa in one hand and the Golden Rule in the other, and with them I shape a mostly adequate life. And as long as it’s not disrupted in some truly disastrous way, I don’t feel a crying need to be redeemed. I pray with the church, “Come, Lord Jesus!” But under my breath I’m begging, “Just not right now.” As someone once quipped, if you’re having a decent year in your own kingdom, it’s hard to long sincerely for the coming of God’s.
If Advent feels frustrating, or boring, or beside the point, maybe it’s because we haven’t gotten real enough yet to need what it promises. Or to perceive and care about how much others need it.
One more time, then. Let’s prop up our heads and keep them lifted again, this year and year after year. Pray again for Christ to come. But even more, hope to be struck to the core by just how much we need him to.
Make me feel my need for you, O Christ. Help me say, “Come!” And mean it.