Advent has always been my favorite liturgical season. I love being able to intentionally slow down and sit with all these readings about how God is coming to restore God’s people. I love the goth-y hymns. I love that everything is purple (sorry, Sarum Blue fans).
Advent feels a bit more real for me this year. Maybe it’s because we are all in this seemingly perpetual season of waiting for the pandemic to be over. Maybe it’s because we are all just tired and afraid and we need all the good news (see what I did there?) we can get. For me it’s also because this year has truly felt like something out of the book of Revelation, and I’m low-key wondering if maybe this is the year the heavens open up and lo, He will come, with clouds descending.
Far from being just the four weeks that precede Christmas, Advent a time for us to think about the person Jesus is, the hope he offers to all the world, and what it means for us that the many things Jesus stood for (like justice for the poor, including all people in God’s Kin-dom, loving your neighbors) are in direct opposition to the ways in which we currently live our lives (that is, oppressing the poor, discriminating against others, not doing right by our neighbors). In many ways, Jesus represents the end of the world as we know it, because he challenges us to give up power, riches, and prestige, and take on love, humility and compassion.
I’ve seen a lot of people talk about how they want to just “go back to normal”. For Advent this year, I’m inviting you to consider that 1) there is no “normal” to go back to – the world as we know it, pre-pandemic, is gone; 2) That “normal” – where we’ve normalized hatred and oppression, where we don’t question how our capitalist, science-denying, ignorant ways of living are killing our neighbors – is not worth going back to, anyway. Jesus would want us to go back to normal either. He would want us to aspire to the Kin-dom of God. And if the end of the world means the end of suffering and the opportunity to build a radically different world, maybe…just maybe, that’s not such a bad thing?
That’s why I’ve written this devotional. No Going Back is a journey through Advent with the lens of the apocalypse. I invite you to notice what 2020 is exposing in our world, to dream beyond the world we inherited, and to prepare yourselves to help bring that new world into being. It is meant to be read with on each of the 4 Sundays of Advent. You can do it alone, or with a group. I’ve made it available as a PDF, and each Monday, I will post the week’s reflection here on the blog, if you’d prefer to follow along that way.
You can download the PDF here. Please feel free to share your reflections and thoughts on social media with me as well!