Daily Meditations

The Twenty-Ninth Day of Christmas Advent. The Significance of Our Days.

THE SLOWEST OF PILGRIMS, I have come to see how my own faith, fragile as it is, is assisted and sustained by the calendar, by the lectionary—by the seasons of the Church. I want to share my growing understanding that our participation in this cycle is one way we might, as they say, redeem the time. “The days are evil,” writes Saint Paul, imploring us to do something about it. By deliberately attaching our given days to their holy antecedents, we are able to glimpse an eternal significance embodied in our every moment—redeeming our days from what might otherwise be a melancholy emptiness.

During the Advent season, in particular, the eternal significance of our days becomes crucial to our apprehending how, now and ever, God is with us. What is the nature of this gift we have received, this gift we hope yet to receive? Have we come to understand it as a proposition or do we welcome it as a person) Is the One we call our Lord Jesus Christ a lovely idea or is he the lover of humankind?

For most of my life, I have assumed that each of us must struggle at his or her faith internally, intellectually, and, for the most part, alone. More recently, however, I’ve suspected that such a solitary journey is nothing short of an aberration—even if it is a very common one—and an aberration that keeps us both divided and conquered. To the extent that we fail to appreciate our connection to—our mutual dependence on—one another, we risk languishing in a faith half-realized, more or less sleepwalking.

This error is in some measure remedied by our observing the common calendar together: the calendar provides daily reminders that Christ literally walked the earth, and that centuries of his Saints have found his presence available to them at every moment since. In attending to the calendar, I have come to appreciate how Christ and his saints encourage me, not simply by my thinking of them, but by my living with them—remembering their feast days, recollecting their exemplary lives of prayer, praying to live likewise.

I suspect that the result of this recollection goes beyond a mere commemoration of grace offered in history; rather, the heart of this matter is our subtle liberation from time itself, a sense that, yes, we commemorate the Birth, the Baptism, the Transfiguration (and yes! The Death, the Burial, and the Resurrection); we recall together those mighty acts of God, which return us and all things to life. More important, we learn to apprehend these events in the present. And better yet, compelling our own bodies to observe the feasts and fasts together, we remember the physical presence, the very body of our Lord. We begin to understand that the flesh he becomes is our own flesh. Of a given morning, we may yet apprehend his body utterly near us; of a given morning, we may yet lean into his embrace, accepting that gift, and numberless gifts thereafter.

~From Scott Cairns, “Second Sunday of Advent,” GOD WITH US:  Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, edited by Greg Pennoyer & Gregory Wolfe


While we wait for Christ to come in glory, we enter into a sense of expectant hope articulated by the prophet Isaiah.  The Scripture readings during Advent concentrate on the promise of God’s coming reign, when all creation will live the way God intended.  Peace is promised: we read of lions dwelling with lambs and of nations forgiving their grudges.  During Advent we dwell in that space between the promise and the fulfillment, praying for the Lord Jesus to “come.”

~Adapted from Eugene Peterson, “Introduction,” GOD WITH US:  Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, edited by Greg Pennoyer & Gregory Wolfe