Stories of Hope – December 1

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Advent is both a beginning and an end, an alpha and an omega of the church’s year of grace. Too often considered merely a season of preparation for the annual commemoration of Christ’s birth, this rich and many-layered season is actually designed to prepare the Christian for the glorious possibilities of the Parousia. It is a season of longing expectation – ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’ (Revelation 22:20) -William G. Storey

During this cozy season of candlelight and festive preparation, I sometimes wish there were fewer lectionary readings referring to the end of the world. It seems so stark, scary even. We hear language of urgent expectation and dire consequences. Our Advent hymns cry, “Wake Awake, for Night is Flying,” “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending,” “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.”

“Parousia” is theological shorthand for the second coming of Christ. It means, simply, “presence,” and in the ancient world was used to refer to the ceremonial arrival of ruler. With its regal connotation, it reminds me of the arrival of the famous King of Rock n Roll. “Elvis is in the building.”

This season, we wait with eager enthusiasm for Jesus to arrive, not only as a babe in a manger, but as an active and present king in our midst. We long for the promised day when all that our King values will exist in its fullness – love, justice, provision for all, wholeness…the list goes on.

We are promised this day will come. This is what we are waiting for.

  1. What do you long for Christ to transform?
  2. How have you seen the presence of Christ make a difference in your life and in the world?

Let us pray. O God our King, we pray with the prophet Isaiah, “O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down.” Enter our world and change it by your presence. Transform us into a people who look more fully like your body, at work in the world. Help us to wait for those moments when we notice your presence among us. Amen.


All italicized quotes, poems, and prayers come from An Advent Sourcebook (Liturgy Training Publications/Chicago, IL, 1986).

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