Advent begins this weekend. Advent, Christmas and Epiphany make up my favourite time of the liturgical calendar, and each year for the past several I have posted a daily Advent calendar. I intend to do so again this year, though it might not turn out to be daily.
Those of us who hold Jesus to be King over all creation are able to speak of the experience of relationship with him, through the presence of the Holy Spirit with us. But we must also speak of the experience of Jesus’ absence, for he is not here: he is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory, from where he will one day return. Having chosen to take on our humanity, even though his humanity has been brought out of death by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is not omnipresent. Instead, he sent the Holy Spirit, to be our comforter and our counsellor in his absence.
The purpose of Advent is to help us to live with the absence of the One in whose presence we long to be. We live immersed in a culture of instant gratification, and must train ourselves in order to be counter-cultural. Advent is given as a gift, by which we must first own our experience of absence – the sweet tension of anticipation, of hope; or the insecurity that whispers, will he come back for you?; or the abandoning of dreams; or...Only once we have owned our experience of absence can we occupy ourselves rightly while we wait.
And so this year I will start out exploring Absence, and we shall see where we go from there...