Advent, the Third Week

We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming, he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him who they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one, in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty. {St. Bernard of Clairvaux}

Life and mystery, pain and joy, something opening and something closing – do you sense the action all around us? This Advent, we are waiting, but this is an active waiting. The anticipation builds. Like violin strings stretched taut, we crane our neck to see what might be coming. We’ve had enough of the muck, enough of the fear or self-pity or selfishness, enough death. We want life. We want death to go, and we want so much for life to come.

And though Jesus is a thousand things, he is this first of all: Life.

Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us that Jesus has come, and indeed, one day Jesus will come again. But Jesus is appearing (adventing) now. God, in Jesus and by the Spirit, is appearing now, all over the place. God appears in a friendship you thought was dead and done. God appears in the child who says, “Daddy, let’s pray for the poor people.” God appears in the form of new courage and fresh hope. God appears when we say we are sorry. God appears when we laugh. Peer deep in the faces you pass. Open your eyes and drink in the sounds and lights and words and smells swirling around you – Life is breaking in. Jesus is appearing.


This week’s Advent gift will be one of my favorite Eugene Peterson titles, his classic A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. This will be a wonderful read for a new beginning in January, a fresh opportunity to see God appearing.

So, if you want to be in the drawing, post a comment and make sure I have a way to contact you – or check back on Wednesday.

15 Replies to “Advent, the Third Week”

  1. Winn, in addition to being a thoughtful writer and teacher, you have a very keen eye (ear?) for quotes. Is "Daddy, let's pray for the poor people" from one of your boys? Because if it is, I'd love to hear the story surrounding it.

    I'm going to be in Charlottesville from the 22nd to the 28th. I'd love to see you and your family, and hopefully join All Souls that Sunday.
    -Erik Pearson

    PS – I already own A Long Obedience, so you can pick someone else.

  2. Tony – I have to be honest, I loved that little word turn. Something's there…

    Erik, indeed, it was Seth. And we have been talking about this family we are giving a goat and chickens to via World Vision for Christmas. And, at All Souls we pray for those who are suffering or poor or oppressed. And then, Miska has been talking to the boys about getting rid of some of their excess for those who have little.

    This morning, per the usual, on the way to school I asked the boys if there was anything I could pray for them about. And Seth said he wanted us to pray for the poor people.

    It has actually led to a good conversation about how the gospel tells us we are all poor. And he got it – he said, "We all need Jesus, don't we?"

    I'd love to see you, Erik. My family will be here that week (from TX and Michigan), so I won't have tons of free space, but I would love to connect if we can – and certainly at All Souls.

  3. Winn- thanks so much for your thoughts- I do want so much for life to come! Aren't you so ready for the final coming as well- awesome that it all points to that… come quickly, Lord Jesus. My best to Miska, and I pray the community is growing healthily- peace to you. I'll email you with an update soon- lots going on here!

  4. nope. just sign Kristen's name – and then let her read it if you win.

    Yeah, not sure what it says when like 18 want scones but 6 want the book on Christian obedience : )

  5. I missed the cutoff, but wanted to say thank you for your words. As usual, they help center me on the Gospel, on the deeper life, making me aware to hope.

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