The other odd thing about Advent is that our scriptures for the 1st week of Advent, the beginning of our church year, start out with the texts of Jesus right before he’s crucified. Maybe this makes sense, maybe it’s a statement that, for Jesus’ death on the cross to mean new life for us is emerging, we have to put the end of life, Jesus’ crucifixion, up against and connected to the anticipation of new life – his birth in the manger. But it feels a bit odd, when images of the shepherds and angels and barnyard animals have begun to float around in our head as we hear the Christmas story again, and our scriptures talk to us about Jesus’ death.
But this cycle of death into life is we actually one we all know. The cycle of death into life, whether it’s in watching the leaves slowly and silently descend to the forest floor, knowing green buds will emerge in a few months, or whether it’s noticing our transition from one stage of life to another, we know this cycle. It is the one constancy in our lives.
And our faithful work is knowing that it will happen, and with grief, that God is always there, urging us into the embrace of what is next.