Advent Week One
“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
November 25, 2022, Words By: Kate Davis, Image By: Myriams-Fotos
I associate Advent with Christmas anticipation, cozy gatherings, and carving out time (amidst all the errands of “Christmas anticipation”) for some reflection and contemplation on Mary’s radical “yes” to the coming of Emmanuel — to God not only being with her, but within her.
But the readings this first week of Advent remind me that it is not only a season of coziness and contemplation. Advent is a season of apocalyptic revelation. Sometimes revelation is marked by beauty, as in expecting the arrival of a child, full of new life and pure potential. But sometimes (dare I say, more often), revelation is the veil lifted, and in the harshness of our disillusionment, we must come to a new understanding and new relationship with reality.
Revelation is disorienting, but it is a gift. Only when we face reality as it is are we able to engage with it, to be transformed by it, and perhaps to transform it.
We could read Jesus’s words here as commands. Don’t be merry with food and drink, for a flood is coming. Don’t sleep, for a thief will come in the night. Stay awake, stay vigilant, and expect the worst.
Which is not only impossible, but darkly out of character coming from a man who lingers over dinner tables and pours his friends wine, a man who literally sleeps in the hull of a boat through the dangers of a storm.
Perhaps Jesus is simply describing the nature of revelation, the reality of what it will feel like to encounter God With Us in the flesh.
Encountering God might feel like a thief in the night: reality itself breaks into the home of our life and startles us awake, disoriented in a house that no longer feels like home.
Encountering God might feel like being flooded, the cold tsunami wave of new reality crashing down on all of our heads. None of our systems seem to hold, none of our institutions left standing.
An encounter with God can occur anywhere, at any moment, sparked by any event — through the loss of a job, a marriage, a friend. Through the shuttering of a church or closing of a business. Through the election result we never thought would happen. It might come through a positive test or diagnosis. Through a novel virus and calendar full of canceled events. Through a video witness of yet another brown body murdered at the hands of the state.
In a flash, the world we knew is flooded, is swept away, is taken from us — and the world we’re left in invites us to engage, to encounter, to transform. Our readiness cannot be a readiness for any event that might crash our reality. Our readiness must be for the character that we form ourselves to be, the values we live in our daily actions. The question that remains, when faced with any new reality, will be: Who will we choose to become?
Dwelling Among Us
What moments have led to your transformation? How did that transformation form you — what values and character were shaped? As a result of that transformation, how have you transformed your community?