Advent Greetings from President Lallene J. Rector
During these days of Advent, we find ourselves torn between the worldly rush of the holiday season and the spiritual longing to enter into a quiet space of waiting – waiting again with remembered anticipation for the wonder of God become human, dwelling among us.
Though the story is very familiar, each year something new can be discovered and a well-known insight deepened if we but quiet down long enough to be with God, to read a little, to reflect, and to be in fellowship with our siblings in the faith. Our Advent journeys are enriched by paying attention. This is not passive waiting.
I have been struck by a juxtaposition of Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement of her impending pregnancy, the announcing role of John the Baptist, and the idea that we should be “angels of annunciation” in the world. Together, these elements place a powerful claim upon us.
Mary bears witness to cousin Elizabeth about the nature of God. She sings, “God has shown strength; has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations; has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; has filled the hungry with good things; and has sent the rich away empty-handed.” God is not interested in the powerful arrogant ones, but rather concerned with the lowly and the hungry.
John the Baptist cries out in the wilderness about the state of our lives and the advent of God’s realm on earth. “Change your hearts and lives!” Repent and make way for the coming of the Lord, for there is going to be a time of accountability. And for what shall we repent in this season of Advent when we are caught between the promise of hope and redemption and the reality of our sin-filled and troubled world?
In the tradition of the prophets and the teachings of Jesus, we are to be evangels, “announcers” of the good news of the Gospel. God became human, born as the son of a mother, who grew up and dwelt among us. He was the One who rendered mercy, and who offered healing and kindness to the least of these. He suffered death on a cross so that we, in this witness of ultimate obedience to God, might have new life and have it abundantly.
The world needs us to bear witness to God’s concern for the lowly and the hungry, to declare in prophetic voice that we have fallen and must change our ways. And then, the hurting world needs us to keep telling the good news of the Gospel story, to be angels of annunciation. May you wait meaningfully and with expectation, renewing your hope and confidence that God is at work in the world and is always doing a new thing. God’s blessings be upon you this Advent season.