Food is this way also. As a society we used to live closer to the miracle. Put some seeds into the ground, add water, sunshine, maybe a few nutrients, and then we’d wait for food to come into being. But for most of us today, the food we eat is pulled off the shelf at the neighborhood market, having been recently packaged and presented for our purchase. Because we trade our hard-earned money for food, rather than our backs and our sweat, it is easy to forget that humans didn’t create it. We forget that if all the water disappeared suddenly, as it has in so many parts of our world, our money could not feed us.
Advent calls us back to this reality. Life, like water and food, is not within our power to produce. It is mostly waiting, watching, anticipating and paying attention to the miracle of God’s provision. It is not easy in our technologically advanced society to admit such dependence. We can get fooled by how hard we must all work to make a living in our culture today. Civilization has brought much comfort and security, and many jobs, but it has also provided a certain level of deception. We can lose sight of the fact that the real miracle of life is not ours to control.
There is a danger to live so far from the miracle. Mostly there is the danger of missing out on what is exciting about being alive. We can miss out on the surprise of it, the amazement in it, and the privilege of waking up to the sound of the rain or the beauty of sunshine. Advent calls us back to the miracle that is really all around us, both in creation and in each other. It is hidden sometimes by the important work we are given to do and by the amazing civilization we have developed. But those incredible accomplishments were not meant as a substitute for the miracle of this mystery we call life. Advent is the season of the church year when we are reminded that we are a part of something overwhelming and spectacular. Advent sits us down, invites us into a moment of silence, to listen again to the rain.