Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  As we know so well, the word simply means “coming” or “arrived.”  We use it in this context to refer to the coming of Jesus into the world.  Most of us have celebrated Advent many times and are quite familiar with its meaning.  But what many sometimes fail to recognize is that the coming of Jesus is a three-dimensional concept.  Our usual habit of thought is to limit it to only one meaning or two at the most.

Characteristically, we think of Advent in terms of the Christmas story.  This is when we pause to look back across the centuries and remember that the Son of God came into this world as a little baby, born of the Virgin Mary.  That is the classic and historical meaning of Advent.  At other times we turn our faces to the future, remembering that He has promised to come again, marking the end of history and the fulfillment of God’s purpose on this earth.  For want of a better term, we refer to this as the “Second Coming” of Christ.

Both of these meanings are doctrinally sound.  They are clearly written in the Bible.  They have been celebrated and proclaimed throughout the history of our Church.  But if we stop there and go no further, it has the practical effect of removing the coming of Jesus from the experience of our daily lives.  We need to open our minds to one more meaning.  We need to recognize that Christ not only has come in the past and shall come in the future, but does come in the present.

It seems to me that we have to give Advent a broader meaning.  The Lord is trying to open our minds to the truth of His coming in the events and experiences of our daily lives.  Surely, He is never far from us; and we should look for Him, not just in the clouds of tomorrow, but in the streets of today.

We should look for Jesus, not just in the big events of life, but in the small things as well.  An old family doctor that had practiced medicine for fifty years said, “I do not see how anyone can witness the birth of a baby and not believe in God.”  There was a man who had learned to see the coming of Jesus in the doing of His daily work.

But some will say that their work is too drab, no way to find God anywhere in it.  What about Jesus?  He wasn’t a doctor; He was a carpenter.  Simon Peter?  He was a fisherman.  They were doing household chores.  To experience the presence of Jesus in the doing of our daily work depends not so much on the    nature of the work, as the attitude of the worker.

If the heart is right and the mind is expectant, we will find Jesus in many places – in the face of a child, in the needs of other people, in our joys and even in our sorrows.

This Advent is a very special time of the year.  Let us use it wisely so that we will see Jesus always as a friend who will walk with us amidst all the pain and gladness of our daily lives.  Happy Advent Time!