By Sister Mary Sullivan
This is the first reflection in our 2019 Advent blog series.
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Let us not be shortsighted during this First Week of Advent. Let us not limit our thoughts and prayer to commemorating only the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. As decisive for our lives and ultimate happiness as the enfleshed Son of God lying on straw in Bethlehem is and will always be, that blessed Coming of God into the midst of our human history and circumstances is not the Advent, the Coming of God, that we now await.
For God is Love, and our God is not an unmoved God, remotely indifferent to the universe and to the Life this God has created and sustains. Our God is an Always Coming God, still creatively present and eagerly moving toward us.
When the Child in Bethlehem became a thorn-crowned man crucified on a cross for what he had faithfully proclaimed about his “Abba,” his dear Father did not forsake him. His Father God was still there, still held his hand, raising him to new life. And in that tender resurrecting, our Always Coming God promises us the final transformation of all humanity and all Creation.
As Jewish theologian and philosopher Abraham Heschel has explained, our God is a God in intimate relationship with Creation and hence “in need” of our humanity. The inherent yearning of our Creator God—the divine hope of God from the first moment of the universe—was that conscious created life would come to be and would learn to love, and that we would then freely come to God’s love, even as God’s love freely comes to us.
Therefore, to “hope” is to recover or acquire, with God’s help, a humble awareness of the Always Coming God who is not just behind us, but also present to us and ahead of us—always coming toward us and pulling us freely, by divine instructions and enabling gifts, toward eternal joy with our Advent God.
So, as we continue our human pilgrimage Godward, and light the first candle of this year’s Advent wreath, let us say to God in hope: