Advent is my favorite season of the liturgical year.
Or perhaps not necessarily my favorite – I do love the feasts of Christmastide and Eastertide – but it is the season with which I resonate the most.
The remembrance of what is already juxtaposed with what is not yet.
The remembrance that Christ has come, the anticipation that Christ will come again.
Perhaps this Thanksgiving has been the most fitting of all my Thanksgivings to meditate on the ache of this reality. Can I, should I, carry on a practice of gratitude when all around is chaos? Is it naïve or irresponsible to stubbornly choose joy when I know that so much of what I have to be grateful for is grounded in my own privilege?
Just as our times of work are primarily meant to allow rest and play, our seasons of remembrance are meant to carry us onward into what is to come.
The call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly is an exhausting livelihood. But it’s ultimate purpose is not meant to wear us down, rather to seek the welfare of all creation so that all might enjoy the fullness of God and the works of God’s hands.
To do justice, we must acknowledge injustice. To love mercy, we must meditate on those to whom mercy can be shown. To walk humbly, we must realize our own tendencies toward pride.
But as long as our focus remains on the injustice or the pride, we are weighed down by the radical impossibility of this call. The injustice is too large, the mercy unnatural, the pride too pervasive to succeed in our Christian mission.
Rather our focus must be on Jesus and his radical notions of justice, Jesus and his deep mercy for those who hurt him, Jesus and his utmost humility as God incarnate – and the promise that the God who began a good work will carry it on to completion.
Our focus must be on hope.
On what is to come.
So as I face the knowledge that my own comforts are bathed in privilege, that everything good is tainted with pain or oppression, I will hold and confess and grieve and lament the injustice of life today, of life in creation not yet restored.
But, I will fix my eyes on the God who already came – incarnate, enfleshed Jesus – and the stubborn belief that Christ will come again – to restore the entirety of creation, to wipe away every tear, where there will be no more death, no more mourning.
I will be grateful for the glimmers of that restoration that exist today – in the sweet tang of sourdough bread, in the soft snow and the laughter of family, in the Eucharist, in a roommates brunch and a church’s feast.
Knowing that it is only with faith grounded in what is to come that I can live out my call in creation today: strengthened to do the work of justice, mercy, and humility in the stubborn hope that Christ will come again.