Advent Thoughts: Birthing Hope

What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and in my culture? We are all meant to be Mary.

Meister Eckhart (15th century)

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means “coming.”  Indeed, it is a time of year when we tune our hearts and minds to remembering the birth of hope in Jesus the Messiah.

I have written previously about Advent as a time of wild hope, and it is. But the thoughts just keep coming about the hope that Advent offers. And since I am in the throes of depression, and seeing little hope in my current days, I am doing all within my reach to seed and water any hope I can. So here are more thoughts on Advent.

This time of the “Coming” is indeed a time of true hopefulness because it is a kairos moment pregnant with God.  Kairos is a Greek word for time that is unlike the human concept of time known as chronos (from which we get chronological time). Kairos is not a time of the clock but is a time of divine visitation, a rending of the human cloak of reality when God comes to dwell among his people in an extra-ordinary way.

Kairos in many ways sums up Advent: God going to great lengths to come to us in a manner which we would truly be able to relate. It is God coming to us through the fragile vulnerability of a newborn child, who would grow into the Messiah, a human being through and through acquainted with the pain of sorrow and the power of resurrection.

We need this sign desperately today: a sign of faithful love and solidarity given with no expense spared. But it seems we have fallen prey to some of the same distortions as the people who lived during the birth of Jesus, namely the misled belief that Messiah would come as a powerful military King to liberate his people.  

But God, it seems, had different plans.

God chose instead to come to us as a naked, helpless baby born to a poor, unwed teenage mother in a land under occupation, which defies all logic and reason.  Jesus did not come as some warrior God with a large army, a boon of gold, and a taste for control.  No, he came to us, as one of us, and chose to make himself known in vulnerability, fragility and poverty – a far cry from how most people thought Messiah would come. 

Advent reminds us that Hope, coming in the Man of Sorrows, is indeed a scandalous moment: a moment where God made his unfathomable grace known and available to each of us in ways both comforting and disturbing.

This time of year is a time to remember that the hopeful coming of the Messiah occurred in relative obscurity, with little pomp or circumstance, with no “Black Friday” sales, or shiny decorations, and without the hottest new toy that we somehow deem necessary for our survival.

God comes to us again this Advent as he did over 2,000 years ago: in the gentleness of vulnerability; in the tenderness of new life given during a dark time; and in the promise of hope when all seems lost.

Advent is not only a coming, it is also an opportunity.  It is an opportunity for us to remember during the darker days that God is asking us again to allow our very lives to become like Mother Mary, a sacred womb, a place where the hope named Jesus can be born anew within us and indeed the world.

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