By Debbonnaire Kovacs, November 26, 2014

Mark 13:26-7, 32-36, NIV
“Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven…But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake– for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Advent already, can you believe it? For churches who follow the liturgical year, this Sunday begins the first week of four weeks spent leading up to Christmas. You’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll likely say it plenty more times, so if you’re tired of it, feel free to scroll down…I think Adventists miss a great opportunity by not celebrating Advent!! If you think it’s all about Christmas, think again—that passage above is from the Revised Common Lectionary, followed by most Protestant churches, and is intended for use this first week of Advent. This is the time when their sermons, songs, art, plays, and so on all point to the Hope people experienced as they looked forward to the First Advent, and the Hope we can all experience as we look forward to (and work to hasten if possible) the Second Advent.

Some people see this passage as frightening or warning. I see it as full of hope and excitement. It’s not like the evil taskmaster dreading his master’s return; it’s more like the prodigal father watching eagerly for his son, the bride waiting with beating heart for her groom. That word, Hope, is the official “word” for the first week of Advent. It’s all about looking forward, trusting, waiting. As I write, it is also the week when my country chooses to have its national day of Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d see if I could combine the two.

I’m thinking about the mixed feelings this holiday (and those upcoming) engender in so many. Is this a time for celebration, or a time for mourning those who are no longer around the table? Is it a time to thank God that our Native and European ancestors sometimes cooperated and got along—sat down together, shared, ate, hoped for a common future—or is it a time to protest vehemently the injustices that occurred when the two families of people clashed? Is it a time to revel in the abundance on a groaning table, or to open our eyes and share some of that abundance with some neighbors who have little?

Or could it be all of the above, and still share the hope?

This week in the Visual Arts section, you will find a photo of an ancient mosaic of the two loaves and five fishes. It’s interesting to me to think of how that story might fit in with Thanksgiving and Advent and Hope.

What do you think?