We are “between” in the United States and every school teacher feels the joyous tension of being past Thanksgiving and yet weeks from Christmas. Even our college students feel it, the anticipation with so much left to do.
If you are not a teacher, work still feels different than it did. When working at Metropolitan insurance, we did not wish our clients to slow down, and many had coming tax concerns, but they still did. Parties intervened. People have guests over to the house. In the next three weeks there will be an office party at many places and rare is the organization fully open for business on December 25.
This is not Fall (pumpkins are disappearing), but we are not yet at full winter. When I lived in Upstate New York, these were gray days lit only by the appearance of Christmas lights. Here in the American City of the 21st century, the days are cooling down, this is good, but it is not yet cool enough for what passes for winter clothes here. 2016 cannot end fast enough for many Americans, but 2017 is a month away.
Advent is the Church’s name for this between time, the hallway of the year.We are moving from Thanksgiving to Bethlehem, but are not there yet. There are four weeks to go, each lit by a candle along the way to show us that time is passing and we will reach the new and better room where we will feast.
There is a tradition in my church to fast for the length of Advent. We give up most flesh meat (Thanksgiving is ok!) to recall that Jesus became a human, fully a man, and had a heart beating with life. Many days, we dispense with wine and oil and our cooking becomes blander. We give the difference in our grocery bill to charity and prepare for Jesus through prayer and Scriptural study.
Most of all, we think about the other hallway in which we find ourself: caught between now and eternity. We are dying, but we are still alive. We are children of the City of God, but still citizens of this republic. We are in the hallway heading toward the door of death. Jesus is being born within us, but we do not yet see Him fully manifest in our lives until we are glorified with Jesus.
All our lives are Advent, our prayers a candle to light the way, and our good deeds done in hope that now we are moving toward our own Bethlehem, the place where we die and are born again. Glory is coming, but not yet.