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Advent Season Portends Hope for Future

In a recent segment on NPR’s Morning Edition, Rev. Cameron Partridge shared about an idea he developed during his years as a college chaplain. "You know, you've got the end of the semester. You've got finals. Preparation to leave for home. So, Advent barely got to be observed."

Traditionally, the season of Advent is observed in the Christian liturgical calendar during the four weeks preceding Christmas. But Partridge decided to start it a few weeks sooner, in order to draw attention to the necessary, urgent themes of the season. He says the shift gave students "an opportunity to actually really be present together and to observe it together, which could be grounding in a time of great intensity."

And this seems of upmost importance these days, especially given the current extended conflict in the Holy Land. "We can't pretend that everything is fine," he says. "There is tumult in the world, and it is real and it is hard and it is deeply affecting people."

The current move to begin marking the season earlier began in 2005, when the Rev. William Petersen got together a group of clergy, professors, and church musicians who formed something that came to be called the Advent Project.

Petersen believes that Advent for Christians is as much about hope for the Second Coming of Jesus—sometimes called the Second Advent—that will usher in the reign of God as much as it is about commemorating the first coming of God in the person of Jesus in first-century Palestine.

Petersen says that tension is where we all reside, which is why Advent is what we need. "In its dwelling in the already and the not-yet, Advent can ground and strengthen us in all of that uncertainty and help give us an ability to connect."

Possible Preaching Angle:

The good news is not just that God came to the earth as a baby, but that by doing so, he signaled hope for his Second Advent in which the heartache, injustice, and death of our fallen world will be overcome by goodness, truth, and life.

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