|Sometimes it's hard to tell...|
Today, the first Sunday in Advent, kicks off the church's liturgical calendar. For many Christian traditions around the world who follow this calendar, today amounts to New Years Day. Advent is a season of expectant waiting. What a novel idea for Westerners, to engage in something terribly important by waiting. We are expecting/observing the coming of cosmic Christ to the human Jesus. God made flesh, dwelling among us.
What is the link between lament and expectation? In biblical contexts, it is the cry of Israel for deliverance from its oppressors and a desire to see Israel's God, Yahweh, rightly recognized as God of gods, humans, and indeed all of creation, coupled with the expectation that Israel's God would accomplish all this. The Old Testament prophets begin to sound the messianic notes that are picked up in the New Testament by John the Baptist and Jesus himself. John says "prepare the way!" and Jesus says "it's happening now." Later, Paul will speak of God's kingdom as one becoming manifest slowly but surely, subjecting the entire creation to the pangs of birth and expectation of new life.