All the Earth is Waiting – Advent 2017

Dear Companions on the Journey:

We begin the season of Advent on Sunday, December 3. Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus, meaning “coming.” Since the fourth century, Christians have set aside the four Sundays before Christmas as a season to prepare for the coming of Christ in various ways: the promised coming of the Messiah, the coming of Jesus born in Bethlehem, the promised return of the risen Christ in final victory, and the continual coming of Christ into our lives and hearts. It is a time when we notice that we are living “in between”: In between the fi rst and second coming of Christ; in between memory and hope, past and future; in between the Good News of the Gospel and the culmination of God’s hopes for Creation. Advent is a time we notice that while we strive for the Kingdom, we’re not there yet.

We are not there yet. Looking back at 2017 can be painful: A resurgence of out-in-the-open white supremacy; multiple catastrophic hurricanes; the Wine Country fi re; too many mass shootings to enumerate; nuclear saber-rattling; the exposure of our culture’s hidden acceptance of sexual harassment; multiple threats to the simple assumptions that keep people safe, happy and healthy. And that’s just in the wider culture. Everyone, as well, has a personal story to tell of loss, confusion, or disappointment. It isn’t surprising that many people feel that things are falling apart. Sometimes it feels as though all the Earth is waiting not just for things to get better but for things to be diff erent. Completely new. Overhauled. That is an Advent kind of feeling.

As someone said to me recently, “When you figure out that what you’re doing doesn’t work anymore, it’s time to think differently.” Advent asks us to open our eyes to what isn’t working, to lament what we see, and to remember God’s vision:
“The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid” (Isaiah 11:6)
“…they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fi g trees,
and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:3-4).

That is the vision for which we wait, and for which we hope. All the Earth waits for that vision. That is this year’s Advent theme: “Toda La Tierra – All Earth Is Waiting.” All the Earth looks with hope to a time when what Christ began is completed. Join with all the Earth — “Toda La Tierra” — and with our companions at First Presbyterian Church, as we wait in hope this Advent.

Together we Serve,
Joanne Whitt

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