In recent years, two dystopian trilogies have captured a great deal of popular attention: The Hunger Games and Divergent. Dystopian literature is stories about worlds that have gone wrong. Their main characters are forced to discern and live into their truest identities, despite the immense consequences that will probably result.
In a playful way, we can think of Advent like a dystopian story. Call it sin; call it brokenness; blame whom you want or nobody at all: the reality of the world is that things just aren’t quite as they should be. Our faith teaches us that God created the world out of love so that we might experience the goodness and love of God: anything less is brokenness. The next time you cringe at a news story or cry with a friend experiencing trouble or loss, you’ll have proof of this broken-ness.
Advent, then, celebrates the three-part story in which God chooses to come into the midst of that which is broken so that all our experiences might be drenched in the presence of God. Part I of the story is God’s presence-come-to-earth in Jesus – the first Advent (or coming, as the word means). Part II of the story is the way the Spirit continues to bear God’s presence into our lives, especially during seasons of increased devotion. Part III of the story is the final coming of Jesus, in which he will usher in the new heaven and new earth and all will be renewed. Advent is a season to look at all three parts of the story, to turn them around and gaze at them, and to ponder and pray. May our Advent ponderings open us to God’s presence.