Today’s Word: ‘Tension’ as in… Advent is a season filled with seemingly contradictory realities held together even by their curious differences.
Consider these tensions of Advent:
“Already/Not Yet.” We pray, “Come, Lord Jesus…” Yet, even this prayer acknowledges that Christ is already present. We await his coming while already celebrating his birth!
“Infant/Ruler.” We hear the soft cry of a baby in a manger. Yet, and in the language of the church, that manger is the throne of a king who rules with equity, justice, compassion and boundless grace.
“Mystery/Majesty.” We experience the sights, the sounds, the aromas, the feelings, even the tastes of this ‘Waiting Season’ combining to create a sense of mystery that swirls around us, embraces us year after year. Yet, in that waiting there are those moments when the majesty of this season drops us to our knees in utter wonder and awe.
“Darkness/Light.” The days grow shorter and the nights grow longer. Yet, we live with the promise of longer days and shorter soon nights to come.
“Death/Birth.” In one verse we lament death: “Fast away the old year passes…Fa la la la la la la la la…” and in the very next breath we sing of life: “Hail the new, ye lads and lasses…Fa la la la la la la la la…”
This is the Advent tension.
We are living in the tension of the in-between-ness of life. Yet, at the same time we know that the promise of a new time has already come to pass. Maybe that’s what Isaiah was pointing to when he announced:
“The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them. Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens, the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent. Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide!”