First Sunday of Advent
Creating Space for the Spirit
The word “Advent” in its regular form means “arrival.” For example, “The world was changed by the advent of television.” Within the church’s liturgical year, Advent is connected to the time of “not yet” as we wait for Jesus’ arrival. Advent reminds us that there was an arrival of the infant Jesus and there will be an arrival of Jesus again, but within this season we are challenged about how we will live between these two arrivals.
Perhaps theologian and priest Henri Nouwen says it better: “The whole meaning of the Christian community lies in offering a space in which we wait for that we have already seen.” *
We have seen this arrival of God in the life and love of Jesus and in the ways the Holy Spirit moves among us. How do we live with this wondrous arrival, knowing that God is not finished with arriving among us?
Our waiting and preparing in the season of Advent is not a passive act. In creating this space for waiting within our Christian community, we are actively preparing a place for people who today might be facing the distressing, fearful, or unknown circumstances that Luke’s Gospel describes. We cannot promise anyone that life will be without its challenges or that the world will be free of frightening events. What the church can promise is that no one will be left to face such things alone.
We stand alert, together in a loving space to face the challenges of today. In doing so, we create space for the Spirit to live and move among us. As a hymn often used on the First Sunday in Advent declares, ”So come, my Sovereign, enter in, let new and nobler life begin.” As we wait, may we create such spaces for Christ to enter.
Janel Rice, pastor, Calvary Moravian Church
*Henri Nouwen, “A Spiritual of Waiting,” in The Weavings Reader, ed. John Mogabgab, © 1993 The Upper Room.