An Evergreen Advent

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This weekend, as I sat in our pew at Mass, I realized that I thrive in Advent.

Maybe it’s because I’m a planner. I love the season of preparation as we wait for the arrival of Christ, a vulnerable naked baby born in Bethlehem. I smile every time I light our Advent candles, and the smell of fresh greenery brings back childhood memories.

Every Christmas, I’m filled with a mix of excitement for celebrations, but sad to see Advent go.

But this year, I’m coming to a realization that Christ invites us into a season of waiting for him, and that season doesn’t end with when December 24th makes its annual appearance on our calendar.

Although we’ll pack away our Advent wreath, we’re still called to live in ‘Advent,’ a word that literally means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’

Who is coming? Who’s arrival are waiting for? Christ’s.

We’re not only called to reflect on his first coming in the Incarnation, his birth as a baby, but also his second coming at the end of time, where we’ll meet him face to face.

No one knows the hour or day the Lord will return, and for most of us, it could be that the first time we see him face to face is not at the final judgement, but at our own judgement after death.

The Catechism talks about this double meaning of Advent beautifully, saying, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (CCC 524).

Our Advent should be as evergreen as the trees we decorate this Christmas season. Our waiting doesn’t end - we constantly call out ‘Marantha,’ ‘Come, O Lord!’

As if I needed another excuse to burn candles all year round.

“Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say,  ‘Come Lord Jesus!’
— Henri Nousen



- Henri Nouwen