Advent starts in just a few days. As Hilary wrote two weeks ago, much of our academic year is spent in ordinary time, and Advent is a funny, abbreviated, season here at the college. Instead of four weeks of hopeful waiting, we only celebrate one Eucharist and Lessons and Carols together. We all live through the frantic rush of term papers and exams—together at the college or each holed up on their own—before the College goes quiet for the holidays. For students, teachers and those who love them, Advent is often punctuated not so much by the theological themes of hope, peace, joy and love in steady progression, but rather the rush of end of term and (hopefully) some well-deserved rest before Christmas.
I used to think that this pattern was a sort of disordered version of Advent waiting and preparation, hoping that somehow, after graduation, I’d be able to enter into a more fully Christian Advent, free from the pressures of the end of term. I’ve never quite gotten there—since graduation, I’ve spent my Advents surrounded by others whose lives are governed by the rhythms of the academic calendar, and have often submitted my own time to its demands. Advent at school and around those who are is still divided into “before everything is due” and “after everything is due”—and then Christmas.
I’ve since come to believe that observing Advent at the end of term is no less holy than any way of living the season. One of the real gifts of the round of the Christian year is the way it sanctifies all time, calling us to recall and celebrate God’s salvation again this year—and the next and the next—in the midst of all the other things to which God calls us. The events of our lives all overlap with the observance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Advent at the end of term comes to reflect the good news that in Jesus, God comes to us in all the joy and complexity of our humanity, as much in the busy-ness of end of term as anything else.
May the rhythms of this season—of work and rest, of waiting and hope, of term and holiday—draw you more deeply into the hope of Christ’s incarnation. And may the promise of Christ’s coming sustain you as the term draws to a close.
This message was written by College Chaplain Jen Bourque for this week’s Wingèd Ox, a weekly news digest distributed to the college community.