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“A deliberate tension must be built into our practice of the Advent season. Christ has come, and yet not all things have reached completion. While we remember Israel’s waiting and hoping and we give thanks for Christ’s birth, we also anticipate his second coming at the end of time. … Worship on these Sundays should be designed to help people see the tension between celebrating and hoping.” (The Worship Sourcebook, 2004, Faith Alive Christian Resources, p. 421)
I feel that tension this year. Do you? I think the church can bear sacred witness to this tension in the midst of a culture that urges us to yearn for things that will not ultimately fulfill us. The church can embrace the tension of simultaneous lament and thanksgiving, that it can be a place of sanctuary for those in despair, for those needing healing, for those impatiently awaiting God’s reign of justice and peace. The tension of Advent makes space for us to beckon “O come o come Emanuel” with both gladness and trembling.
Living in the tension between celebrating and hoping. That is my desire for this Advent season, my liturgical new year’s resolution.
O God, whose will is justice for the poor
and peace for the afflicted,
let your herald’s urgent voice
pierce our hardened hearts
and announce the dawn of your kingdom.
Before the Advent of the one who baptizes
with the fire of the Holy Spirit,
let our complacency give way to conversion,
oppression to justice,
and conflict to acceptance of one another in Christ.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(The Worship Sourcebook, p. 429)