The Second Sunday of Advent | Marty Bell
Sunday, December 9
In the northern hemisphere, Advent comes in the season when darkness is lengthening and the light is shortening. The writer of 2 Peter reminds us that we are awaiting “the coming of the day of God” and “new heavens and a new earth.” While waiting for the breaking of a new dawn, we are admonished to live lives of holiness and godliness. An ancient Rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and the day was on its way back. “Could it be,” asked one student, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?” “No,” answered the Rabbi. “Could it be,” asked another, “when you look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it is a fig tree or a peach tree?” “No,” said the Rabbi. “Well, then what is it?” his pupils demanded. “It is when you look on the face of any man and can see . . . your brother. Because if you cannot do this, then no matter what time it is, it is still night.”
During this season of Advent, we are given opportunity to pause and to consider what it means to be a follower of Christ living between the first and second comings of our Lord. No two of us has the exact same perspective on this subject. For me the Rabbi’s story gets pretty close to stating my truth. If I cannot see a brother or a sister in another human being, I am living in the darkness of night. One of the great paradoxes of our experience is our sense of unity in the midst of diversity. We often have difficulty maintaining the tension between what makes us the same and what makes us different. Nevertheless, I believe that in that tension we find meaning in our faith.
At the root of all the evil that is being done in our world is the inability to see a brother or sister in another human being. Just as siblings can be very different from one another, but share in a common family heritage and experience, we as humans can be very different from one another, but share in a common bond. Is the night over yet? Not yet, but it shall be.
Professor, School of Religion
To download a digital copy of the 2012 Advent Guide, put out by Belmont’s School of Religion, click here.