We can never know about the days to come – but we think about them anyway…

So begins Carly Simon’s song, Anticipation, aptly running through my mind as the liturgical season of Advent begins. If you’re like me, thinking about the “days to come” tends to trend more towards finishing (starting?) Christmas shopping, wrapping, addressing cards, menu planning, company Christmas parties – and as the calendar fills up, the season becomes a source of stress rather than one of peace, and good will toward men starts to dissipate as the person in front of you in line is taking far too long…

While Advent might focus in the culmination of the birth of our Lord on Christmas Eve, the word advenio (Latin) is defined as “the coming.” We celebrate not only Jesus’ birth but also His coming in the present, through the Eucharist, and the promise of His coming again at the end of time. With this in mind, advent becomes less about a December 24 “deadline” and more about the God who was, and is, and is to come. We remember not just His humble beginnings in a stable, but His sacrifice on the cross, and His place in eternity; a place He’s preparing for us.

It may be difficult for us to imagine a season of birth in a time of physical darkness – with its dead trees, early sunsets and bitter cold – and cultural darkness, in a word that seems more fractured than ever. But St. Paul reminds us that, as followers of Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), much like that baby in Bethlehem – and with old things passing away and the dawn of a new year – a new decade! – on the heels of this liturgical season, comes the promise of “days to come” rife with promise and possibility.

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus!