The two most important Church seasons, both preparing us for two important events in Church history – the birth of Jesus and his resurrection.
You don’t just stumble into glorious events in life. There’s a preparation period or a period of time that brought you to those events. Your boss just doesn’t approach you and say, “I’m giving you a 10% raise today.” That raise would be based on your work, hence preparation. The odd part of Church teaching is that we cannot work for or toward it. Birth and Resurrection are unsolicited gifts from God but during our earthly journey we are able to prepare for each and perhaps even act a bit surprised when both these gifts arrive in our souls.
Advent? It’s purely for kids. All the unknowns and mysteries of life are presented to us in four weeks. There’s twists and turns that would turn a Republican’s eye in its revealing and unfolding beauty. There’s opposing animals sleeping together and there’s plenty of talk about hope, community and reaching far beyond our today’s concerns. Just like children, Advent plunges into our imaginations and shows us to forget about what “is” and immerse ourselves into “what if?” Advent can only look forward and Lent always looks back.
Lent? Now it’s adult’s time (and we needed to add two extra weeks!) to see the failures that Advent invited, launched and held out to us as “at least possible.” Lent looks back at those bad decisions, those selfish choices, the times when ignoring the many benefited the few (which is reduced to “what’s in it for me?”). Advent holds hope in her hands and Lent reconciles his failures to be hope and choosing instead to watch out only for himself.
The weird part is that the Church continues that pagan tradition of honoring time this exact way. Who among us would place hope (Advent) at the beginning of winter and reconciliation (Lent) at spring’s beginning? Who are these people?
In our wise wisdom, you and I would put Advent in the spring of new beginnings and the sad season of Lent at winter’s beginning. Foolish us, we wise people.
Those who are in need, sorrowing, mournful and struggling (like a cold winter) need Advent here and now; and how can you appreciate spring’s hope while carrying around all that old, hurtful baggage. No, the Church continues the right way of the pagans and keeps our feelings in tune with the seasons in their proper, pagan order.
Yes, Advent is for kids. So, put on your pj’s, get your ice cream and look up at the moon and wonder how we can bring that reflective moon that is Jesus Christ to our everyday lives. Open your eyes as wide as a 10 year-old would because this is Advent when anything and everything is possible when done in God’s name. We have plenty of time before spring when Lent calls us for an accounting of our Advent.
Wouldn’t we be truly God’s servants if our Advents led to quiet and peaceful Lents? Now find those pj’s.