Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand. (Luke 21)
We think of Advent, perhaps, as a kind of mini-Lent: purple, no flowers, no Gloria. And in a way that is true, like Lent it is a time of preparation for Christmas. A good time to go to confession. A very good time (though perhaps a difficult time) for a quiet day, a retreat, for some spiritual reading.
But in other respects Advent is very different from Lent. In Lent we still sing 'alleluia'. We 'rejoice, rejoice' that Emmanuel is coming. It is a time of excitement and eager expectation - not just for the wide eyed children aching for Christmas morning - but for all God's creation as we yearn for the coming of the King.
While all around us may be bad news, war, disaster, tragedy, Christ commands us to hope not fear, to trust not doubt, to rejoice not grieve: "Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand."
We learn from the New Testament that one of the prayers of the first Christians was "Maranatha" "Come, Lord Jesus!". May it be our prayer, too.