Advent is upon us! O Come! O Come Emmanuel! In this season, we are to be preparingfor the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord (his first coming) as well as looking head with hope to when he will come again (his second coming). It is a time to reconcile with God and our neighbor when sin and a cold heart may keep us apart. It is a time to be people of light amidst the darkness.
This is very likely our last Advent in our current church. With that comes a sense of sadness as well as hope. We may be sad, as we cling to the memories that are framed by the walls of this sacred space. It may be joyful as we look to a new beginning with a foundation being prepared for the future. We honor all those experiences and people who have dawned our doors. As we gaze about our church, we are reminded of how it has changed so many times in the past. This is a perfect season to prepare our heart for something new, something that builds on the memories and guides us towards our future. With the process of a new church building moving forward, we must hold close to our hearts the Paschal Mystery (the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus).
The thought of change causes pain and suffering for most of us. But, as Catholic Christians, we know that suffering can be redemptive if we join it to the sufferings of our Lord. We do best not to avoid our suffering, but to go head-long into them. By doing so, a part of us dies—possibly our selfishness or pride, possibly our neediness or sinfulness. Whatever dies in us, we know that through death, new life—resurrection—comes forth. Advent is a time to allow our old sinful ways to die so that we may live anew.
So, let us walk as people of the light amidst a darkened world. Stare down your fears and sufferings and let go of whatever is keeping you shackled in your heart. Let us enjoy this final Advent knowing that something new is coming, something that will also give Glory to God. May we let the light of Christ shine even more brightly in our hearts so that his first coming will propel us to fearlessly head towards his second coming. O Come! O Come Emmanuel!
Fr. William Holtzinger