Advent is the season of preparing ourselves to live (to keep living) in the light of the Lord’s return. The thing is, no-one knows when he will return. Jesus could have come again for me and my family last night, when we went to bed forgetting to blow out a candle on the mantlepiece. Instead, he sent an angel to keep watch over it all through the night, and make sure our house didn’t burn down.
The first of the four Last Things, traditional themes of Advent, is DEATH. Death is the moment our whole lives inexorably lead up to, the culmination of our life’s work. Every preceding moment is a rehearsal, to die well, to come to the end of our lives in wholeness, at peace. The primary vocation of all God’s people is to be recipient ministers of reconciliation.
Advent, then, is a season of preparation to be peacemakers. In as much as it depends upon us, to be reconciled with those to whom we are presently estranged. In as much as it depends on them, to bring them daily to God in prayer, forgiving them where they have wounded us, and asking for and receiving God’s forgiveness where we have wounded them —
for it is in receiving God’s forgiveness that our anxiety over the present condition of estrangement is stilled, allowing us to be a non-anxious presence in the world in the face of death, which is common to all, and all around us.