Importance of Advent

Psalm 146, 147 (Morning)

Psalm 111, 112, 113 (Evening)

Isaiah 1:1-9

2 Peter 3:1-10

Matthew 25:1-13

Our Psalms today are one of the most joyful set we draw in our rotation through the Psalter, which, on one hand, might seem a little strange as we begin to settle down into the quiet of Advent. But perhaps it’s a little like how my grandpa used to take me outside and let me run around and “get it all out of my system” when he needed me to sit quietly and behave.

In fact, they might be especially good ones to read aloud today, if you are not always in the habit of reading them aloud. I invite you to read them and listen carefully at the wide variety of the things being rejoiced over. Sure, some of them are the usual things we tend to feel warm and squishy about (mostly the beauty and power of nature) but the biggest theme in all of these psalms involves the lowest among us to be lifted up and exalted…for the oppressed to find justice…for the brokenhearted to find mercy. These psalms invite praise for God’s desire for the least of us from the created world itself.

The world we created, however, is speeding headalong into that thing we call the Christmas rush. It’s a world of greed and deception–a world that claims if we just find the perfect gift, cook the perfect holiday meal, or fill our house with the right items and smells we will retain the love of those we care for, fix the rifts in our families like they do in the Christmas movies, and we can all have the perfect Christmas that looks like a page in a Norman Rockwell coffee table book.

The truth of that world is that the least of us had to work on Thanksgiving afternoon at the largest chain stores in the country to feed our greed over cheap flat screen TV’s and country hams. The least of us is wondering if they will even have time to be with their family at Christmas. The least of us took an extra holiday part time job to buy the toys and games and electronic gizmos for their kids and grandkids, that next year, will be old news. What have you done for me lately?

This is why Advent is becoming more and more important to the practicing Christian. Advent leads up to the ultimate expression of God’s love, which was not born in a never-ending spree of glimmer and glitz, but instead, was born in obscurity in a rough, rude cow shed. It’s the 1% shining more brightly than anything the 99% can create.

Today is a wonderful day to feel that promise in these psalms of praise–but the ask a question of us. What do we hear in them that can bring justice and mercy on Earth that inches just a little bit closer to God’s notion of justice and mercy?

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid. Dr. Evans is currently on a mission trip from the Diocese of Missouri to the Episcopal Diocese of Lui, South Sudan.

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