How can we have a heart for Advent when there is killing and constant struggle happening in the world? Is anyone else feeling the same restlessness? It is hard to find peace when so much is pushing against it. Rather than complain about the state of world events and banter about who is right or wrong, I would like to share something I read recently that might touch our hearts in a new way.
Please bear with me as I walk through this idea by Jurgen Moltmann, a German theologian. He says we approach relationships in two different ways, as futurum or as adventus. Futurum is when we expect a relationship to have a predicted outcome. Futurum is Latin for “what will be”. We decide what will be based on what we know from the past. It is a tunnel vision approach. There is no room for hope because we have already wrapped our heads around what it will look like. Futurum decides how people are before we let them show us themselves. Adventus is the opposite. Adventus has no expectations, except perhaps to always be surprised. It is Latin for “what is coming”. We are pliable, open, and hospitable to other. It is living in hope and anticipating something new. Goodness will arrive no matter what actions we take.
There are all kinds of relationships. We have relationships with each other: our parents, our children, our friends, our doctors, our pets. Our church has a relationship with the community. Our country has a relationship with other countries. We have a relationship with the divine. Consider whether you approach these relationships with a heart that is futurum or adventus. I dare to theorize with the amount of shootings happening in our country that many hearts out there are in futurum. Maybe it is easier…more comfortable. But it can be paralyzing too.
Our challenge is to have adventus hearts. We need hearts that are open to something new and hopeful that good will come. That is how God breaks into the world. A pliable heart is receptive to seeing others as they are, and that allows God to enter. Our relationship with God doesn’t have to be separate. God weaves God’s way through all of our connections with others. An adventus heart is a heart that doesn’t have all the answers but presses forward that it will all work out anyway. Maybe it is idealistic and hokey. Maybe it is risky. But doesn’t it feel right to live that way? By emptying ourselves of how we think things SHOULD be, we take a stance of how things COULD be. It worked for Jesus. Maybe it’s worth a shot?
Another theologian, Basil Pennington, says, “You know how it is, my dear brothers. Some days we go to our lectio, and the Lord doesn’t seem to show up. We go on to the liturgy, and he is seemingly nowhere around. We approach the tomb of the altar, and it seems completely empty. Then, as we go down the garden path on our way to work, lo -suddenly there is the Lord,” (This quote on page 103 and much of my research comes from Steven Chase’s book, The Tree of Life).
This Advent, maybe we could try having adventus hearts. Be surprised at the wonder that is possible when God is able to break in and create something new in all of us.