Advent (Hope): Human Longing

Advent as a liturgical season that leads into Christmas did not begin to formulate among Christians until the 5th century CE.  Until then, there was no formal recognition or celebration of the birth of Jesus.  When it did formulate, it was largely to supplant the Winter Solstice celebrations of the Indigenous peoples of Europe:  the birth of the Great Mother’s Son (the Mabon) in the Celtic lands or the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus) of the Romans.  Celebrating the birth of Jesus on the Winter Solstice Christianized those events, and the Christian story took on many of the characteristics of the Mabon (mother and child) and the Sol Invictus (today a Son/Sun is born to us).

The subsequent centuries focused on prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures that seemed to foretell the coming of the Christ child.  Advent became a time to focus on the prophecies and celebrate the long-foretold birth of the Christ.

Human beings have always faced into the darkest times of the year by finding within themselves their own deepest longings.   Around these deepest of human longings, we humans of every stripe have told stories.  These stories always include the elements of the underdog, the unlikely victor, the human situation that should fail–but does not. Like a child born to an unsuspecting mother.  Like oil lamps that do not burn out.  Like the Sun that dies one night to leave the world in utter dark only to be reborn the next morning.

Whatever one wants to call this time of the year, it is the time when we discover again our fragile parts; we rediscover Hope.  Today, where are you feeling most vulnerable?  What does the seed of Hope begin to look, sound, feel, taste and smell like?

Bob Patrick

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