Buffy: How many apocalypses is this now?
Giles: About six, I think.
Buffy: Feels like a hundred.
The season of Advent gives us the apocalypse each year not only so that we might recognize it, should it come, but also, and perhaps especially, that we might enter more mindfully into our present landscape and perceive the signs of how God is working out God's longing in the world here and now. The root meaning of the word "apocalypse," after all, is revelation. And God is, in every time and season, about the work of revealing God's presence. The one who came to us two millennia ago as Emmanuel, God-with-us, and who spoke of a time when he would come again in fullness, reveals himself even now in our midst, calling us to see all the guises in which he goes about in this world.
Advent reminds us, year in and year out, that although we are to keep a weather eye out for cosmic signs, we must, like the fig tree that Jesus evokes in this passage, be rooted in the life of the earth. And in the rhythm of our daily lives here on earth, Christ bids us to practice the apocalypse. He calls us in each day and moment to do the things that will stir up our courage and keep us grounded in God, not only that we may perceive Christ when he comes, but also that we may recognize him even now. There is a sense, after all, in which we as Christians live the apocalypse on a daily basis. Amid the destruction and devastation that are ever taking place in the world, Christ beckons us to perceive and to participate in the ways that he is already seeking to bring redemption and healing for the whole of creation.
As we enter the season of Advent, and spiral yet again around the landscape that this first Sunday gives to us, how might Christ be inviting you to practice the apocalypse? What are the habits that keep you centered in God, that sharpen your vision, and that help you recognize the presence of Christ in this world? How do you participate in the redemption that God is ever working to bring about within creation? What is it that you long for in these Advent days?
This is part of a series of Advent reflections by Jan Richardson available on the Mainline Protestant Portal at Patheos in the coming weeks.
Jan Richardson is a writer, artist, minister, and director of a company called The Wellspring Studio, LLC. Her favorite projects are those that intertwine words and images, including her small press, Wanton Gospeller Press, through which she designs and hand-binds books that incorporate her art and writing. Visit her virtual studio at janrichardson.com. Her two blogs are The Painted Prayerbook and The Advent Door.