Christmas is ripe with nostalgia. (This is a huge understatement in my world.) This season can be almost overwhelming for me, with the memories and emotions evoked by every song, activity, movie, meal, worship service... at times I feel overcome by a strange, tearful combination of grief and gratitude for all the Christmas seasons I remember.
Advent, however, is different. Advent is about the One who is Yet To Come, who is on the way to us. Advent turns our focus to a time that is still ahead of us, drawing us forward: a day when all nations will ascend the Lord's mountain to be instructed in God's ways. A day when disputes will be righteously settled, and when the implements of war will no longer be needed.
In Advent we anticipate the coming King, and the coming Kingdom of inconceivable peace and undeniable justice... such as only God can fulfill.
But the prophet Isaiah calls us--not to wait, fidgeting and biting our nails until God finally follows through to establish this fantastical reign--but to "come" and "walk" and to begin the Kingdom journey now.
Our family saw a (very abbreviated) stage version of "A Christmas Carol" today. As always, Scrooge was transformed by the visions that he saw--the nostalgias of Christmas Past, the realities of Christmas Present, and the threat of Christmas Yet to Come. The Yet to Come terrified him with its awful predictions: simply put, death and more death. Scrooge's great lesson was the truth that his present-day life, his choices, his relationships, had everything in the world to do with the future that awaited him.
The vision Isaiah gives of the Yet to Come has everything in the world to do with us. It is a future that can be ours, a future that we can jump into now with every one of our lives, every choice, every relationship. Ebenezer Scrooge changed his life in order to avoid the future that he saw; we, on the other hand, are yearning toward the Kingdom that has been foretold. We are called to be changed, called to lives that reflect that bright future. We are called to walk in its Light, today.
May this Advent season be abundant with merry memories, but may it also lead us to walk ever closer to that which is Yet to Come: the newborn Love, the shining Light, the reign of Peace.