Jesus, Our Consolation, Our Comforter

One of the downfalls of calendars, including church calendars for that matter, is that they sometimes convey this nice and orderly cut-off between happenings. So, for us in the organized religion realm, we just had this nice four-week window for the season of Advent. As always, it had this starting and ending date, setting the stage for the day (or twelve day, actually) seemingly more enthralling celebration of Christmas. So, as we’re still catching our bearings from family gatherings (or still trying to get to all four or however many this week), we’ve had to put away our blue paraments and other Advent-y things in church building backrooms as well as the back burners of our hearts and minds.

After all, Advent comes off as having this obsession with waiting, not just for December 25, to celebrate Christ’s first coming among us, but some major universal-alteration second one, too. We seem to be past that since there’s so much we need to attend to in the present celebration timeframe, as if there’s no need to wait for anything anymore: the gifts are unwrapped, the leftovers are in the fridge, among other wonderful things in our very midst.

However, with this particular recent Advent, I was reminded of a homily that was given many, many Advents ago by a church giant in Bernard of Clairvaux. It’s not just that first and second coming of Jesus that we in the church tend to talk about ad nauseum from December 1 (or so) until December 24 (but that’s the cut-off point!). There’s also a third coming: “This middle coming is like a road that leads from the first coming to the last. At the first, Christ was our redemption; at the last, he will become manifest as our life; but in this middle way, he is our rest and our consolation.” And just so we’re on the same page (calendar or otherwise), this long and beautiful and arduous and wondrous and pain-stricken and joyful way is not limited to a few weeks, but throughout our lives.

Over and over again, we need reminded, we need reassured that Christ “is our rest and our consolation.” We come back to that Gospel not just on a Sunday in December or the evening of December 24, but every day. We will do so again in the early days of 2024, as many will make whole-hearted and well-intentioned resolutions to improve their respective lives. And many will not live up to their goals for whatever the reason may be. Nevertheless, Christ “is our rest and consolation.” Even on the days that don’t go according to our wall calendar plans. Even on the days when we don’t quite make the time to read Scripture or pray, to raise our awareness of this “middle coming” we’re traversing with our Emmanuel. Even on the days when we wonder if Christ’s coming and going in this world can possibly be for us. No matter what, Christ has made the decision to come to us, and no matter where this “middle way” takes us, he’s never, ever leaving. Thanks be to God, indeed! Amen!

In Christ,
Pastor Brad