I love this season of Advent. For me, it is a time of already and not yet. A time when I focus on the coming of the Christ-of-faith and the promise that the infant birth incarnates. At the same time, God-with-us is already closer to me than I am to myself. This already given part holds the promise of salvation for all. It prompts me to be a transformative presence in the world.
Sometimes I might ask, “Why bother? I’m already saved.” The why bother calls out to me when I see hunger, poverty, and homelessness. I am broken-hearted as I watch in horror those hundreds of babies shrouded in cloth, innocents slaughtered amidst the Middle Eastern conflict. Or refugees seeking asylum and the unjustly imprisoned seeking freedom.
As I reviewed the final edits of my new Christmas CD, I was reminded that there is a lot of risk involved in “putting myself out there,” in responding “yes” to the not yet and the unknown. One of the selections on the album is “Mary, Did you Know?” The promise of Christmas is contextualized in the hope of the Resurrection in this song by Mark Lowry. Reflected in the lyrics are all the not yet moments I ponder with Mary in Advent-waiting.
Even though I am already saved, God-with-us calls for my engagement in this process, the not yet aspect of salvation, responding as a disciple and participating in this transformative process. The historical Jesus would also experience this not yet. He offers me a glimpse of his own unknowing: “It is not yet the right time for me,” (John 7:6).
Even though I am already saved, God-with-us calls for my engagement in this process, the not yet aspect of salvation, responding as a disciple and participating in this transformative process.
God offers us a path through this Light of the World. The star that the Magi followed to Bethlehem shines for us, too; it offers a way of being. The call to discipleship is the same call Mary received. Beware, however. Do not be fooled into thinking you can save the world. The Gift at Christmas is an In-dwelling God, offering unconditional love and mercy. That’s the mystery that Advent holds for me: already and not yet.
All that Mary said “yes” to, the already, would unfold as she remained faithful to the not yet. Like Mary, impregnated with the Light of the World, we carry this light into a broken world. Called daily to discipleship, we shine for those caught in the cycle of desperate darkness; we shine our light to lift them up. “The light shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it,” (John 1: 5).