The attentive waiting of Advent is the practice of entering into the Story, and as we contemplate those who entered into Jesus’ first coming, so we discover our role in entering into Jesus’ coming return. This process takes time – potentially, years – and the Season of Advent is an annual gift to us, to this end.
Do you identify with Mary, who took on an apostolic role: birthing the new thing God was bringing-about in her context; and guarding the integrity of the new, in transformed continuity with the old, by treasuring in her heart the things God was unfolding?
Do you identify with Mary’s relative, Elizabeth, and Jesus’ as-yet unborn cousin John, who took on a prophetic role: testifying to what God was about to do, pointing to the new thing as-yet just beyond the horizon; helping ground the apostolic urgency in the bigger picture?
Do you identify with the shepherds, who took on an evangelistic role: spreading the good news of the birth of the Saviour through the streets like a virus, infecting the neighbourhood with glad tidings of peace and joy?
Do you identify with Joseph, who took on a pastoral role: enfolding Mary and Jesus in his protective care; nurturing the Word-become-Flesh through patient apprenticeship?
Do you identify with the Magi, who took on a teaching role: bearing gifts to help inform the One who had emptied himself of all knowledge of what it means to be human: gold, which reveals that to be human is to have physical needs, of food and shelter; incense, which reveals that to be human is to have spiritual needs, to forgive and know forgiveness; myrrh, which reveals that to be human is to have emotional needs, experiencing love and loss...needs each met by the Father’s provision?
What is your role, as you attentively wait? To bring to birth? To foretell the imminent arriving? To proclaim the now-arrived? To nurture the new? To foster growing wisdom?