As each year draws to a close, there’s a tangible sense of anticipation in our communities: students anticipate their exams, and workers their holidays. Most of us anticipate a long, hot summer. Meanwhile, the countdown of shopping days anticipates the commercial highlight of the year: Christmas!
That last thought drives us to panic; so much to do, and so little time.
Amidst the frenzy, the sacred and ancient journey of Advent sits oddly with the racing tide around us.
Anticipation is not only a state of mind, but of heart and body. We feel our anticipation, and that shapes our response.
Advent anticipation invites us to pause, to shift from what we anticipate at the close of 2015, to whom we anticipate: and to ask, what difference does that make?
In Advent, our prophetic Old Testament readings join John the Baptist, Mary and Elizabeth to point to the coming king, born at the margins of earth and heaven, whose life and reign will transform how we understand ourselves and our world.
Advent can help us change course – through daily Scripture, prayer or study together, by taking time to walk, talk, read and contemplate… So may we encounter the coming Christ.
The Advent Scriptures leave us in no doubt what to expect: a world changed by the good news of God's kingdom. Christ is the advent of this counter-cultural realm, where the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Advent, then, becomes a season of action as we work with Christ to transform the world, bringing peace, hope, love and joy to all.
As we look across the globe where millions flee as refugees, or into our own nation, where many suffer dire needs, or within our neighbourhoods, where few know the love of Christ – there are endless possibilities to act for the kingdom.
So as the anticipated year-end fills diaries and bids us count shopping days till Christmas, may we each, instead, turn to encounter Christ whom we know and for whom we wait.
And may that knowing inspire us to action, anticipating that as we act, God’s kingdom is coming on earth as it is in heaven.
The Very Rev Jo Kelly-Moore is Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland.