“What could happen next?” How many times have we asked ourselves that question in the past year? Though we most often use this expression when things don’t seem to be going our way, this year it has been an expression of the constant changes to our world which the COVID19 pandemic has wrought.
During every Mass, immediately after the Our Father, the priests pray: “Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
This prayer is particularly meaningful during Advent, the season when we consciously “await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ” with joyful expectation. After all we have been through this past year, this prayer is most appropriate for us to pray often during this season of Advent.
During the Advent season, the Church looks back, reflecting on the promises of the coming Messiah that were fulfilled in the Incarnation, and looks forward to the promised Day of the Lord and the fulfillment of all things.
Unlike the Nativity Scene and the Christmas tree, the Advent Wreath is a simple symbol of the season. It is understood for its connection to the colors of the season, purple and rose; to the four Sundays; four candles; as well as the evergreen wreath itself, the “ever” green and the never ending nature of a circle both reminding us of God’s never ending love.
This Advent will not be the same experience as last Advent. It remains to be seen what the coming days and weeks have in store for each of us. However, no matter what happens, Jesus Christ is there to welcome us. He will celebrate with us in joy and he will even feel our pain. We can count on the unexpected, but we can also count on Him to be there with us. He is now and forever, Emmanuel, “God with us.”