I became a parent when our first son was born, but months before that day my life began to change. Although Debbie did the heavy lifting, I was also in a way pregnant. We anticipated and prepared; we made a place in our home for our coming baby. We sketched out how the routine of our lives would change. As the pregnancy progressed, our lives were already being altered.
Advent is a period of pregnancy in the rhythm of the church year. We anticipate anew each year the coming of Jesus. We wonder what Mary and Joseph experienced during this marvelous pregnancy that would change so many things. We dream about how Jesus grew into his calling and then launched his ministry (Luke 1:80). We know where it all went and where it will yet go. Advent is about preparing ourselves to participate in what Jesus began. What did Jesus begin? In what are we participating? Rudy Wiebe put it this way:
Jesus says in his society there is a new way for [people] to live:
You show wisdom, by trusting people;
You handle leadership, by serving;
You handle offenders, by forgiving;
You handle money, by sharing;
You handle enemies, by loving
And you handle violence, by suffering.
In fact you have a whole new attitude toward everything, toward everybody. Toward nature, toward the state in which you happen to live, toward women, toward slaves, toward all and every single thing. Because this is a Jesus society and you repent, not by feeling bad, but by thinking differently. [The Blue Mountains of China (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970) pp. 215-216.]
Pregnancy is the prelude to parenthood. One quickly learns that parenthood is about a great deal more than sharing pictures on Facebook and buying cute baby clothes. Advent is the prelude to Christmas. As we read further in the story, one quickly realizes that the coming of Jesus is about a great deal more than a cooing baby and some dough-eyed farm animals. It is about a new way of living, of being in the world. This is what we are preparing for during these weeks of anticipation.