A Bonhoeffer sermon, on the first Sunday of Advent, 1933, starts with the picture of a buried miner hopelessly trapped, suddenly hearing the pounding hammer of a rescue party. That is, Bonhoeffer says, Advent, impossible to ignore…”something different than you see daily, something more important, something infinitely greater and more powerful is taking place…”
It strikes me that only in fleeting moments am I something other than the numbed person “who [has] become so accustomed to their condition that they no longer notice they are captive.” I only faintly recognize my poverty through my hubris, only rarely recognize that gray gnawing as hunger, rather than the addiction. Or, actually, addictions, one layered atop the other. Most of the time, “Your redemption is near” does fall on deaf ears and hardened heart, in my case. Usually I manage to successfully drown out such consciousness with gadgets, budgets, widgets, or nougats.
But Advent is a rattle, an unsettling overzealous supernova lightyears away, a disruptive rumor, a faint, buried memory of the stories of ancient and eccentric myth-makers, threatening to take flesh. Whenever I get as mired in what’s right in front of my eyes as I am right now, I am Advent-averse.
Could anything more wonderful than for everyone to do whatever they want to, myself above all, really exist? Is there really any mystery more glorious than what revolutionary new functions the next iteration of the same gizmo will dawn into my life? Any perfection more satisfying than the reinforcement of my own intellectual and moral superiority?
The glimmers of Advent answer, disturbingly, in the affirmative. Goodness hearkens. Redemption invites upturning, if I would dance.