17th December 2022

A New Word for Advent

It’s officially everyone’s favorite time of year – Thanksgiving (in the US) is in the rear-view mirror and wait – the Christmas lights and trees have been up for a couple of weeks already? It’s true, the leftovers aren’t gone yet, but some have already decorated and the shopping has begun. The countdown to the Big Day is on – only twenty-six more to go. On the Christian calendar, these days are the time of Advent or preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. 

Some Advent traditions involve prayer, fasting and repentance or other acts of self-denial, although these seem to have given way to shopping, parties and overeating. Whatever your traditions, it might be a good time to slow down, find stillness instead of frenzy and let the meaning of the season sink in. Advent themes are hope, peace, joy and love – and waiting. We look back as the world waited for a savior and we look forward, waiting for him to return. Our waiting is not empty, but full of learning, loving and doing the work of the Kingdom, which is here both now and in the future. 

In a novel I’m reading, I discovered a word that seems to describe this period: liminal, which comes from a Latin word for threshold. It usually involves transitions, such as from childhood to adulthood, the time between jobs or between big decisions like going from being single to married or sometimes to divorce. In some ways, we are always on the threshold of something different or new. Some handle the intrinsic uncertainty of this state better than others, but we all experience it.

From Creation to the birth of Jesus was a time of liminality, as was his coming to earth and going from birth and babyhood to an adult, and finishing his work of our salvation. We are now again in a liminal time, waiting, somewhere on the threshold of his second coming. Advent helps us rehearse all of these events, instilling in us a yearning for their final fulfillment. 

As Christians, we don’t have to suffer the normal uncertainties of liminality – we know beyond all doubt that all will be well and all will be redeemed. Our hopes will come true. Peace, joy and love will reign and Jesus will be our king forever.

Study by Tammy Tkach


First published on 29 November 2022, at www.gemsofgodsgrace.wordpress.com

About the writer:
Tammy Tkach is the Assistant Pastor of the Eugene, Oregon, USA congregation. She is a speaker and writer, and publishes a blog at www.gemsofgodsgrace.wordpress.com  

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