Ted Jennings on Advent

From Homebrewed Christianity.

What we do is pretend that we have hope, and joy, and love. What we yearn for is what stands under those names. Hope and joy and love, but which we dare not hope for. Advent is a time when we have a chance, if we want to take the chance, of getting in touch with what we deeply yearn for and do not have. We live in a culture of optimism, that thinks that things are going to turn out well, and yet we know in spite of all of that that things do not, in fact, turn out well. We all die. We all experience disappointment, destruction in our personal and familial lives. And yet we think that’s the way things are. We console ourselves with that is what is part of our life, part of reality.

I think one of the things that Jesus does when he comes into Gallilee preaching and goes ultimately to Jerusalem is to tell people not to take reality lying down. Not to take what is real, what is actual, what is possible, what is factual as what is given, but to awake in them this wild, crazy desire. Yearning, which is always already there, for that which is impossible. For bodies to be healed. For the brokenness to be brought into wholeness. For the disasters of our world to turn into actual peace.

And Advent is a time when we can say “That’s not enough. That’s not good enough. That’s not REAL enough. What we want is something that far exceeds what is within our grasp, what is within our experience.” It is only if we really enter into Advent that we can be surprised, astonished, blown away by the coming of that which so far exceeds what is possible, what is programmable that we can actually break loose in tongues, in rejoicing, in rejoicing that has no words.

There are those who are poor, who are broken, who are destroyed everyday who can sing and sigh and yearn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” Can we? Dare we? That is the challenge and the promise of Advent.

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