By Art Wright, CBFVA Theologian in Residence
Advent is supposed to be a season of deliberate quiet, peaceful reflection, and expectant hope. Yet if your experience has been anything like mine this year, Advent has been anything but. I feel like I am trying to manufacture the feeling of faithful expectation as we move closer to Christmas, when we will celebrate the coming of the Christ child, but it’s just not working.
I’m not doing myself any favors: I’m listening to way to much NPR; I’m bouncing back and forth daily—sometimes hourly—between the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News, and other news sites to see how they are spinning the latest developments in the impeachment process. This makes for a season that is anything but quiet and peaceful. We are in a season of acute anxiety and hyper-partisan fighting, and noise feels louder than it has in a long time.
How do we live into the fullness of the season of Advent in spite of the brutal noise of national politics? For what are we waiting? Where does our hope lie? What good news might we share with the world?
The hope many of us feel this season has nothing to do with the Christ child. Some of us find ourselves waiting expectantly for the president’s acquittal; others among us have long hoped for the impeachment vote that took place last night. Some of us grant unwavering faithfulness to the “chosen one” in the White House. Others long for a “savior” to emerge from the Democratic primary process.
Does our hope depend on our political persuasion? If this is the case, we can be confident that things will not get any better in the year to come.
Yet our common faith in Christ calls us to a higher hope and an alternative allegiance. The coming of the Christ child should inevitably shake up our disquieting status quo, just as it did in the first-century Roman Empire. There is a reason that Herod slaughtered innocent children when Jesus was born. Following Christ meant and continues to means an alternative loyalty to the one true ruler, who brings order out of chaos. Our fidelity cannot be first to party or even to country. Rather, it is an allegiance to the one who calls us to dream up a different reality and live into a new vision of the world.
It is our allegiance to Christ that calls us to fulfill God’s will here on earth as it is done in heaven. It is an allegiance that demands we look after the most vulnerable members of society: the orphan, the widow, the foreigner. It is an allegiance that calls us to extend radical love our neighbors. And our enemies.
That includes Republicans.
And Tea Partiers.
And Democratic Socialists.
And everyone in between.
It is an allegiance wrought by the vulnerability of a baby born to a poor and unwed mother. It is an awareness that the sovereignty of Christ will ultimately be demonstrated through weakness and self-sacrificial love. It is a realization that each of us bears the imago dei and is worthy of dignity and love.
Let’s turn the volume down in the coming days. Let’s be quiet and listen to one another in love. Let’s wait quietly, peacefully, and hopefully for the Christ child coming into the world. May this be hope for each of us in this season of Advent.