Advent Devotionals

Below is the text  of an Advent devotional I wrote for The Mennonite website blog.  Each day during Advent, The Mennonite will be posting a reflection written by different members from across the MCUSA family.  The reflection below was written for day two of Advent, but all the other daily reflections can be found HERE.  


2 Peter 3:1-18

Every year, the Christmas season seems to slip earlier and earlier into November (and perhaps even October).  No longer do we have to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to hear our favorite Christmas songs on the radio.  No longer do we even have to wait until Thanksgiving is completely over in order to get all those great deals on all the stuff we probably do not even need.  No longer do we have a clear sense that the Advent season is about waiting, patience, and hope. 

In general, our society treats the days leading up to Christmas more like a month-long extension of Christmas joy and celebration.  The Church, however, calls us to a season of anticipation, preparation, and hope.  This may seem like only a subtle difference, but when the Church allows itself to dwell on hope and anticipation rather than skipping ahead to celebration, we are more capable of speaking and enacting good news to the places in our communities and our world that are hurting.  The prophetic nature of our faith calls us to see and speak the truth about the world around us, even when it is hard.  It is from this posture of truthfulness that we are able to celebrate the good news that God is here among us and that new life is possible.  

The author and the original audience of the book of 2nd Peter were no strangers to the idea of waiting and anticipation.  Part of the context behind this letter is Christianity’s transition from an apostolic to a post-apostolic age when the original apostles of Jesus began to die, leaving the transmission of the Christian faith in the hands of a new generation.  Many early followers of Christ assumed that Christ would return within a generation, so when this did not happen, a shift or rethinking of faith began to occur.  This is the context out of which the author of 2nd Peter writes, extolling the virtue of patience by drawing parallels to God’s patience with creation and God’s existence outside of human concepts of time. 

The same doubts and questions that this passage deals with are certainly some of the same voices we hear today.  We see a world that is not as it should be and think, “Where is the promise of Christ’s coming?”  We see more and more clearly the ways that sin has become ingrained in the systems that make up our lives, so we throw up our hands saying, “all things continue as they were from the beginning!” 

Yet in the closing section of the letter, the author offers a vision for how we are to live in this season of hope: “Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by God at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” 

So let us not skip over Advent.  Let us not use our celebration as a cheer-filled charade that attempts to cover over the realities of our world.  Rather, let us dwell in this season of hope in a way that helps us understand just how much we need Emmanuel, God with us.  Let us live in such a way that we never stop striving for peace.  And, finally, let us find in the patience of God a salvation that both calls us into the future and grounds us in the present.