At This Time of Year

Here’s a piece I wrote for The Reed, a publication of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary:

Advent always seems to come when I am the least ready for it. Classes may be over, but final papers lurk just around the corner! The weeks pass in a flurry of activity, burying the season in endless notes and copies and printed pages. I emerge from my work confused: surely it’s too early for Advent!

By the time it’s all over, after our papers are in (thank ya, lord!) and our books have been returned, Christmas seems to close to comprehend. Two weeks? Am I even remotely prepared for the coming of our savior?

But then I read the words of Isaiah 6:

For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a son is given;
And the government shall be upon his shoulder.
And his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

And I cannot help but hear the music of Handel’s “Messiah.” As an undergraduate, I had the privilege of performing the “Messiah” with my college choir and orchestra. It was always a beautiful occasion, filled with stunning solos and soaring instrumentation. The melody still gets stuck in my head every time I come across this passage from Isaiah, and I am reminded of the awe and expectation, the joy and excitement, that Christmas portends.

God’s promise is made anew every time we celebrate the birth of Jesus. The One who redeems our relationship with God comes afresh, beckoning us to behold his birth and follow his footsteps. The church retraces the life of Christ every year because the church bears witness to our hope in God’s intervention in the world. We go to the manger at Christmas and we retrace the cross at Easter because we believe God is actively restoring the world in our midst and through our witness.

A few weeks from now, I will be driving through the mountains of North Carolina, admiring the bare tree limbs and trying to catch a glimpse of pockets of snow cast here and there. These are also my reminders of the renewed promise of the season. God’s artwork on the snow-capped peaks brings nutrients and new life to the buds that will burst in spring, just as God faithfully brings new life to God’s church, and God’s people, each Christmas.

Blessings to you this Advent!

Mark Horner

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3 thoughts on “At This Time of Year

  1. Beautiful! You’ve been on my heart lately and I wanted to reach out and see how life has been treating you. I miss you, your wit and your insight. 🙂 Hugs this Christmas season.

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