The Season of Advent: what is it really? The Season of Mary? A Season of Penitence? A Season of Hope? Most likely, all of these as each provides something unique in complementing the others. But to what end?  That’s what I’ve been thinking about; praying about, actually. And especially now in what has been termed “post-truth” time. Advent may well be about the coming of God into our lives through not only what we do, but also through God’s mercy and grace in response to our Advent begging in refrain, “Come, Lord Jesus!  Come!” Why we’re not on our knees with this, especially considering present time, I don’t know.

There’s something about Mary and about penitence that seems to get one to the “right” place, which I think is one of humility in an attitude of thankfulness. These—humility and thankfulness—I think ground the courage to hope for that which goes unspecified; hope, in the primary sense, that God will be God in our lives. When I was a young boy my greatest and enduring hope for Christmas was getting a Red Rider BB gun (which, by the way, never materialized). Even now I hope for a “lucky day,” Christmas or not. I have a feeling that the hope we speak and pray about in Advent is not this kind at all. In fact, I’m sure it’s not, with self so absorbingly involved.

When it comes down to it, I think the fundamental question of Advent for any of us is whether s/he intends to live a lie or not, about self. Faith, hope, and charitable love properly grounded in humility and thankfulness, are the principal Christian virtues through which what is True is said to be experienced and lived. These seem to be a safe bet. And the greatest of these? I’d say, hope. The hope that provides the courage to risk love above all else; the hope that gives promise to an uncharted future through faith. Hearts that find their rest in this brand of hope, the “anchor of the soul,” in Advent might be what Christmas looks like, period. Can you imagine an eternity of hope as un-objectified being of individuals and community in Christmas, which comes to in God-with-us, come what may?

Patient God, be with us in our struggles, including with ourselves, as we try to be true. Amen.