Sunday, December 21, 2014

Anticipating Advent

©Doctor Who/BBC
     Advent is a time of anticipation. During the church services leading up to Christmas, our church lights Advent candles, one a week. Each signifies another step towards the coming of Christ into the world, that pivotal moment of history where the Holy One, taken on human flesh, was born, and in  that moment began the work of overthrowing the powers of the world. In each of these services, we also read passages of scripture that highlight the anticipation, passages that speak of the future coming of the Messiah King. In this way we reenact and participate in the tense, sometimes impatient, always yearning experience of God's people in times past, who looked for the Messiah but did not see His day.

     Every year we are also given a (usually) wonderful Christmas special starring everyone's favorite Doctor. Most of them tell a classic Doctor Who tale, drawing inspiration from C.S. Lewis, Dickens, or developing a unique story. The important plot element is, of course, that humanity, or some representative of humanity, is in dire danger and need, and the good Doctor arrives just in time to deal with whatever villainous creature lurks in the darkness. They are also interesting points of transition for the show, often marking the end of a run for the title actor, or more often are the transition from one Companion to another. But for the characters in the show, these are moments of anticipation as well. These are moments of darkness, terror, and in impending doom, and a savior is looked for. In these moments they need someone to enter into their story, their circumstance, and deal with the evil they face. And that salvation comes, never predicted, an unexpected arrival from a man in a blue box who has the power to set things right.

     That is Advent, that is Incarnation. When the children were being slain by order of Herod, while people fled into the darkness to escape, in a time when there seemed to be no hope of redemption from under the unyielding foot of Rome, a person stepped in to rescue this people in need. But this savior did not do so as a general, or a warrior, or even a Timelord in a blue box. Think about Advent this year. Are you anticipating gifts, or food, or family? Or are you anticipating a Savior, a king, a defender of the weak and helpless? Perhaps our narrative is closer to the fictional world of a science-fiction tale than we might initially think. In the chaos of preparations, stop once in awhile to anticipate, to wonder, to glory at the totally improbable and utterly ridiculous notion that our rescue came on that cold winter's day in quite an unpredictable way. Merry Christmas, and more to come after the holidays!

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