Advent Week 1 — The Divine Hope of Our Advent God

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By Sister Mary Sullivan

This is the first reflection in our 2019 Advent blog series.

Throughout this season of hope and anticipation, we invite you to subscribe to our blog and read along with us.

Let us not be shortsighted during this First Week of Advent. Let us not limit our thoughts and prayer to commemorating only the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. As decisive for our lives and ultimate happiness as the enfleshed Son of God lying on straw in Bethlehem is and will always be, that blessed Coming of God into the midst of our human history and circumstances is not the Advent, the Coming of God, that we now await.

To hope is to recover or acquire, with God’s help, a humble awareness of the Always
“To ‘hope’ is to recover or acquire, with God’s help, a humble awareness of the Always Coming God”

For God is Love, and our God is not an unmoved God, remotely indifferent to the universe and to the Life this God has created and sustains. Our God is an Always Coming God, still creatively present and eagerly moving toward us.

When the Child in Bethlehem became a thorn-crowned man crucified on a cross for what he had faithfully proclaimed about his “Abba,” his dear Father did not forsake him. His Father God was still there, still held his hand, raising him to new life. And in that tender resurrecting, our Always Coming God promises us the final transformation of all humanity and all Creation.

As Jewish theologian and philosopher Abraham Heschel has explained, our God is a God in intimate relationship with Creation and hence “in need” of our humanity. The inherent yearning of our Creator God—the divine hope of God from the first moment of the universe—was that conscious created life would come to be and would learn to love, and that we would then freely come to God’s love, even as God’s love freely comes to us.

Therefore, to “hope” is to recover or acquire, with God’s help, a humble awareness of the Always Coming God who is not just behind us, but also present to us and ahead of us—always coming toward us and pulling us freely, by divine instructions and enabling gifts, toward eternal joy with our Advent God.

So, as we continue our human pilgrimage Godward, and light the first candle of this year’s Advent wreath, let us say to God in hope:

We are coming—stumbling maybe, slowly and often distracted maybe, but still coming and still trusting always that You are helping us by Your constant Coming toward us.

Help us to understand that hope and confidence in You require that we, too, work to create the peaceful, just and merciful humanity that You seek to create,
welcome and embrace.

Help us to collaborate daily—by our merciful words, deeds, and sufferings—with Your desires for our universe, for all its created life and for our whole human family.

Hold our hands as You once held Jesus’ hand, and lead us in Your hope for our final, joyously redeemed transformation
as your beloved Creation.

Then, as You once taught a holy woman: “While we place all our confidence” in You, we will “act as if all
depended on our own exertion.”