How comfortable are you with the words, “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”  

Many of us have grown up with the idea that Advent is a time of repentance, a penitential time.  In giving deeper thought to the words I heard for the beginning of Advent from the gospel of Luke, I realized that Advent is a time of hope. In our time, we are inundated by doomsday news.  We read of the pandemic, global warming, increased violence, economic insecurity, the plight of refugees, the lack of justice for the many marginalized in society and always a lack of concern for the common good.  How can we possibly “stand erect and raise our heads?”  

We can assume this position because we are a people of hope and Advent is a season of hope.  We know that we are preparing ourselves for the celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  God sent his son into our midst enabling us to be part of the divine presence of God.  Jesus through his passion, death and resurrection has saved us.  Jesus walks with us because he took on our humanity and knows of our anxieties and fears.   Many times in Scripture we hear the words “do not be afraid.”  In facing our own death and in facing the coming of the end of all time, we can be confident because God has saved us through his son, Jesus Christ.  That is what gives us hope even in the midst of all turmoil.  

There is a second part to which we should give thought.  What is our role in helping all people stand erect and know of redemption?  The second Sunday in the Advent Season tells of John, the Baptist, calling all to a life of repentance.  Letting go of our selfishness and instead focusing on the needs of others will smooth the way for those who are seeking salvation.  Removing obstacles from the lives of all people, when we care for the common good, will enable all to “stand erect and raise their heads because redemption is at hand.”  The Season of Advent is all about hope.  We, however, have our role in the process, when we live in the world as the Body of Christ.  

– Helen Ackermann