This year for Advent, we at D/W are poised and ready: “Awaiting the Promise” of Jesus in our world and in our hearts. The Liturgy Committee chose “Awaiting the Promise” as D/W’s Advent theme because we thought it best expressed where our community’s faith journey intersects with this liturgical season.
Advent has always been a time of hope, when we focus on the coming of the promised Messiah. The Scriptures point us toward the Divine promise of a Savior who ushers in a new era of peace and unity. In so many ways the visit of Pope Francis reawakened that hope in us – the promise of a truly inclusive church that welcomes and recognizes all people as equally beloved of God, worthy of equal protection and afforded equal dignity.
But it is important to note that waiting in the Scriptures is not a passive time of simply hoping change comes. Instead it is a time of intense preparation (Isaiah: “Fill the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.”) and powerful prophetic voices (Jeremiah, “I will raise up for David a just shoot who will do what is right and just.” )
Authentic hope is never a naive belief that good things simply come to those who wait, but rather a trust that when we have done all that we can, God’s goodness cannot be out done. Awaiting the promise means that our efforts to make the world more peaceful and just, both come from, and are fulfilled in, the Love which always and everywhere springs forth from the Source of all creation. We are co-creators in this emerging love even if we do not know how or when our efforts might lead to its fulfillment.
In the Catholic tradition, the great archetype of awaiting the promise has been Mary, Jesus’ mother. In her pregnancy she awaited the coming of Jesus into the world, and by her “yes” she made that coming possible: “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” With this in mind, we are using Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) as the anthem for our Advent liturgies. In the arrangement entitled “The Canticle of the Turning” written by Gary Daigle, Rory Cooney, and Theresa Donohoo in 1990, Mary’s Song asks us to join with the efforts of our God in making the world a more just and joyful place.
Provocatively, the song asks, “Could the world be about to turn?” Our Advent liturgies ask us that same question phrased in different words, “Are we actively awaiting the promise of Love’s presence in our lives?” Because as the Scriptures remind us so forcefully these days, the world is indeed turning, but only to the extent that we are turning it – and allowing God to turn us as well!
Liturgy Committee Co-chair