Today’s post comes from David Bayne who serves among abandoned and vulnerable children and youth in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Word Made Flesh.
This Advent and Christmas season will be my first in the Southern Hemisphere. Since moving to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I have often grumbled about how most church calendar reflections, liturgies, and meditations center around Northern Hemisphere seasons. The themes of Advent usually involve waiting in darkness as nature retreats to survive the cold. On the other hand, Easter themes most often reflect and celebrate the Resurrection alongside the new life of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Having now lived and shared life in Buenos Aires for almost two years, I am now more aware of the opposite rhythms of life and seasons here.
Since I went to visit family and friends in the United States last December, this year will be my first opportunity to observe, reflect, and participate in a spring and summer Advent season. I have already begun to notice some differences. We are quickly approaching the end of the school year and summertime, so there is much activity and anticipation with all that comes with summer breaks and vacations. Near the Christmas decorations at the stores are the summer outdoor supplies with pool and beach toys, patio furniture, and lots of plants and flowers. More and more people are outdoors enjoying the warmer temperatures and the new life in nature. People are anxious to soak in the fullness of green grass and trees in the plazas and parks in the city, engaging in the new life that comes with the season and enjoying it. All this stands in contrast to the Advent meditations of winter and parallels my desire to live my Christian life and faith to the fullest this Advent season.
This Advent, as I consider what I am waiting for, I think of new life! Jesus, the Good Shepherd, tells his disciples in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Advent is an active waiting! Both Isaiah and John the Baptist proclaim the Advent of the Messiah by teaching the people to prepare the way, make straight paths, and produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Isaiah 40:3-5, Luke 3:4-8). This active waiting implies engaging in the new life that Jesus brings. Yes, we wait in hopeful anticipation for Jesus’ Second Advent, but we also live into and experience the fullness of new life offered today.
So, the new life of spring and summertime in Buenos Aires will be the lenses through which I observe, reflect, and engage in Advent this year. Our community in Buenos Aires serves among children, youth, and families living in poverty, including those who live and/or work on the streets. How will I give testimony to this newness of life, as I seek be an instrument of the advent themes of hope, peace, joy, and love in the lives of my community and our friends this Advent and Christmas? My Advent desire is to seek and live this newness of life in Jesus that stands in contrast to the things that steal, kill, and destroy. Actively waiting in newness of life!