A priest and performer considers religion, the arts, and the often thin space between sacred and secular, church and culture, pulpit and pew.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Possibilities of Advent

I remember an old advertisement for MasterCard that featured Broadway legend Angela Lansbury; it ended with her saying “Master the possibilities!” Of course no one can ever master all the possibilities, and most of us probably don’t want to. But the ad hinged on getting people to think beyond their ordinary goals to the fact that so much more might be possible as long as they didn’t have to pay for all of it at once.

In the season of Advent God calls us to “master the possibilities”. But where the credit card companies ask us to overextend, open our wallets, and acquire more that we need (a particular hazard at this time of year), God asks us to slow down, to stop, even; to open our hearts, and to be prepared to acquire God’s gracious gift of salvation, which is both free and priceless.
Advent allows and invites us to begin afresh. Jesus tells us to be watchful and alert to that which is both unexpected and unexpectedly present. John the Baptizer urges our repentance, a literal “turning around” of our hearts and minds so that we may level our own hills and valleys and prepare a pathway free of twists and turns that allows the Lord access to our lives and vice versa. An angel announces a pair of impossible, holy births to two stunned couples.

There’s nothing new here, yet it bears repeating, year after year. God’s gift is not one to be garnered on the run, in the midst of a host of other tasks and distractions. The Incarnation doesn’t belong somewhere on a list; it is the list. It must be received intentionally, and nurtured in relationship. The Divine is taking on the human condition. Let’s make room, and time, for that. Let’s pray for the boldness of the Baptizer, the courage of Mary, the fortitude of Joseph, the insight of Elizabeth. Let’s make the coming of Christ real for us and for our world.

1 comment:

  1. After the retail Christmas rush and the Fiscal Cliff debates ~ and now it's the BCS college football bowl in anticipation of college basketball Match Madness ~ I almost forgot that "God’s gift is not one to be garnered on the run ..."