Dr. John Mohan Razu
Immenseimportance is given to Advent in the Christian calendar than any other event. The reason being Advent ushers the faithful to adopt fresh insights and existential perspective. Further, Advent propels Christians to look forward toward a rapidly approaching event, one that sets the Christians to the ultimate point from which the entire episode is premised wherein Jesus, the Christ, taking the human form. Therefore, Advent is historic that unfolds Christ’s event,as we observe and celebrate year after every year for many centuries.
But, Advent 2020 will be different than the previous years. In such ironic settings Advent expects something different for us offering new insights. Our expectation and the mystery of Advent are looming. We need to look forward with mounting expectations to a near-future event: Jesus coming to the world we live taking human form, the irruption of the Kingdom of God, and the dawn of a New Age. Yet, there are events that have already occurred at a specific moment in past history.
In order to be part of these events, we should go back to the biblical texts, in which the nature of God’s intentions for the entire humanity with promises and hope about to be fulfilled. The paradox continues as the significance of the Christ event has not come to fruition‘here and now’. Though we may claim or assume that we stand on the brink of something spectacular, with the power to shatter our limited human expectations about ourselves, our neighbors, our world, and our God, we are muted by some forces or the other.
For instance, where we stand currently is totally fluid that can hardly be dragonized and determined, and so, we do not know where we are heading and how are we going to re-start our lives as usual. We live in unchartered terrains. COVID-19 has fundamentally challenged our ways of life and our worldview and thus diametrically changing everything. It has thoroughly exasperated our ways of living, eating, dressing, entertaining, working, worshipping and moving around. It has been with us all through this year.
Coronavirus isalso drastically re-shaping our ideas and the world we are going live in the near present and the future to come. In such settings, does God’s action in Christ is just more than a matter of soaring rhetoric or the deepest yearlings of the human heart, though these factors do shape the way the story is told. The texts mention about the Christ event occurred and interpreted in conformity with what was expected and longed for, but also there has been also an unprecedented explosion expected. The nature of the text is such that makes us to go back to Bethlehem igniting our participation in the world in which we live and thus sparking to establish God’s order. We are kindled by our awareness of the full impact of the Christ event in the biblical story, in the history of faith, and in our personal lives.
Advent in Latin means “a coming” is the season to celebrate the coming of the Lord. Traditionally it is like a reminder of the last days when Christ returns. For Christians, its deepest significance lies in the fact that it is a time to anticipate the incarnation and to make room for his coming amongst us.Advent-2020 has totally altered Christians’ view. However, we view and understand eschatologically or in terms of the incarnation, our views and understanding hardly represent the current fissures around us.Coronavirus has altered our attitudes and behavior. By the time Christmas arrives in particular this time our ways of thinking, behaving and celebrating would entirely be different.
Advent-2020 calls us to concentrate on the “one thing vital” (Luke 10:42) to get engaged in enriching the lives of our congregations, communities and everyone with a sense of God’s presence. Then advent become meaningful to make way for the rebirth of Christ in our lives. There are three perspective from which Advent could be views:Perspective One is about the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord coming to us taking the human form is historic wherein divine becoming human which is to be considered as holy for the whole people of God.
Perspective Two is about the recognition of the “eschaton” wherein God’s presence—the present and future are subsumed concretely as we fuse by de-mythologizing and hope-enlivening weaving in one thread. We need to view the present times and end-times as continuum, not by isolating the time and space. Perspective Three is all about Christ’s coming in the present—rather than the past or future happening used to be the most familiar approach to the Advent.
Keeping aside this approach, Advent-2020 need to view the present thatassimilates the future--the vision and hope with grandeur amidst unprecedented chaos and appalling devastations. When coronavirus has leveraged the present and future plans of human life and livelihood in such ways by rocking the entire world to extremities and leveraged all aspects of our lives to alarming levels, what does Advent-2020 mean to us?
In such a context, Advent-2020 is bound to offer spiritual freshness, new hope and vision in a world of a variety of experiences. Fluidity unfolds new challenges, fresh insights, new beginning and pragmatic vision for the present and future. God becoming human in Jesus, thus offers hope and joy to the entire world despite gloom and doom. Advent-2020 throws new challenges and new meanings by pushing us to ponder over how vulnerable we are and in that God in Jesus incarnating as a human facing all sorts of vulnerability showing solidarity with us.Advent is a symbol of hope in the darkest times we live.