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Still Waiting…Still Watching?

Advent is here again, and with it the start of a new liturgical year in which our keynote Gospel will be Mark, and to a lesser extent John: the two shortest of the four gospels, and the two most contrasting… which will make for some interesting reflections in the course of the next year.
But first, we need to find our way past Advent Sunday, with its stern admonition that we must continue to watch and wait for the second coming of Christ. In the first century, this made a lot more sense than it does now. God had just disrupted history by raising Jesus from the dead, so it was natural to anticipate his speedy return to demonstrate a new order of things in divine-human relations. Moreover, the separation between earth and heaven was thought to consist of a rather thin celestial region in which the sun, moon and a few thousand stars orbited the earth, so it was not to much of a stretch to imagine God tearing that region apart in order to bring earth and heaven together. Untold billions of galaxies across billions of light-years of time and distance did not come into the picture, but they certainly do now.
So our problem with Advent is that our imaginations can’t really get around the words that we hear in any way that connects with our sense of reality, no matter how faith-filled or spiritual we may be. I do not claim to have an answer to this challenge, just that the difficulty is to big to be ignored. None of that stops the Advent message from troubling us, however. Even if we don’t know what it means, God’s challenge to us still gets through: we must be ready for what happens next in the great scheme of things. Puzzlement, yes of course, but complacency, now that is deadly.
You can hear my comments on the texts here….
Howard Pilgrim

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