(Editor’s Note: Sr. Elise Saggau, a Franciscan Sister, is sharing “Advent Reflections” during the four Sundays of Advent.)
Every year at this time, the Christian Church starts retelling our traditional story — the great narrative of human redemption. If we are not paying close attention, it may seem as though “here we go again” — the same old Scripture readings, the same old songs, the same old ceremonies. But, if we are paying attention, we discover that, lo and behold, the readings are new this year, the songs profoundly poignant and the ceremonies deeply meaningful. Because we are not the same.
Think what has happened to us since last year at this time. Think what has happened in our world. Experience has changed us. Time has moved us into a different position — we hear with new ears, we see with new eyes. How could we possibly hear the voice of one crying in the wilderness the very same way we heard it last year? If that is so, we are pretty close to dead.
God is always coming into our lives, new every day. God is always creating in our lives uncomfortable moments when we realize there is something more, something we have not yet quite caught onto, something that draws us beyond the place where we presently live and operate. Our journey has now brought us to a different place. It is as if life goes ahead of us and continues to call us to greater freedom and greater responsibility.
If we are faithful, we find that we are continually moving away from self and toward the other. This happens because this is what God is like, this is what God wants — God starts all this. God is the one who is forever coming over to us; forever seeking us. God is always entering into our situation as one of us — every single day of our lives. This is what the Incarnation is all about. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” This is not fanciful poetry. This is reality.
So if we are to be like God, we must learn to leave our self and enter into the world of the other in love and in trust. This is what we celebrate at Christmas — God coming among us as one of us so we can be one with God and with one another. Every year, the season of Advent helps us get ready to celebrate this amazing reality better than we have ever done it before.
So we tell our stories again, we sing our songs again, we engage in our rituals and ceremonies again for the first time. And we try to make more room within ourselves — more space — for God to take place in us, in our world, in a new way.