First and foremost, advent is about time. It’s a season, a process of days and nights where we prepare our hearts and lives for the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah.
But this morning I found myself thinking of Advent as a metaphorical place as well, and to the degree that Jesus’ arrival on earth really represents an arrival of God’s Kingdom, it kinda makes sense.
Though the Kingdom is not a physical place, so to speak (the Kingdom comes through the person, teachings and actions of Jesus), the image of a place sometimes helps me.
So let’s think about Advent as a place… A place (like the Kingdom) of hope, or peace, of love, of kindness and compassion.
And a place of “Something New.”
And this place comes every 365 days because, well, I need a repetition of newness, because the “Old” (meaning, the way the world always seems to work) has a pull on me. So I need this reoccurring Advent to help me jettison the baggage I tend to accumulate over the year, and also to help me keep practicing living in, or “putting on”, this newness.
Advent reminds me that, as much good and beauty there is in the this world—and Im trying to get better at finding and recognizing it—there is still another place that calls to me and beckons me.
Like a home.
This place is not really “heaven”. Again, let’s call it what Jesus calls it: “The Kingdom.”
So there is this Kingdom, this place where Jesus Messiah rules and reigns for God, in love and compassion, in “Shalom.”
That Kingdom is the place that I believe that ultimately I’m fit for, though I’m still preparing myself for it.
Every once in a while, I get a taste of this new place, and when I do it feels like coming home in the best possible way.
The new place says, “Rest”
… It says, “You are loved just as you are,
It says, “Come in and sit down and tell me everything”
It says, “All is well and all will be well” (Or in more contemporary and groovy terms, “Don’t worry about a thing, cuz everything little thing is gonna be alright..”)
It’s a place of connection, of roundedness, of laughter and celebration, and as I said, I have tasted it. The taste seldom lasts that long, but …
*I have been there. *
But the strangest thing happens.
Even though I recognize this place as “home,” and my soul truly does find significant rest there, I also tend to leave it.
By my own choice.
Because ironically—paradoxically—while I am drawn to it and I hunger for it, there’s a part of me that feels uncomfortable there, and so I choose to leave and go back to “old places” that I unfortunately tend to know a little better.
Places of performance, of comparison, of jealousy and envy, of doubt, of resentment… of pain.
This is an odd thing.
So… This Advent comes around once a year to remind me of the New Place, and to give me an opportunity, once again, to practice living in the New Place—the Kingdom.
To imagine it. To reignite my understanding and vision of what life in the New Place could be.
To also think about what holds me back, or draws me back to the old place, and to practice (again, that word) leaving behind all of the things, beliefs, and values that are no longer necessary in the New Place.
It’s not that these things, beliefs, and values are all “bad”, much less “evil.” It’s just that they are not needed in The Kingdom.
What a celebration! What a reality!
Living in this New Place; living in God’s Kingdom, NOW. A gift: We get to try on the Kingdom of God, now.
(And all this without physically dying.)
Living into a new reality. With new values, new understandings, new behaviors.
So this Advent, let me say, “Welcome Home.”