Advent always describes a story arc that might be titled “From Culmination of All Things to the Birth of the Culminator.”
In Year A, in particular, Advent reveals a new timeline begun by the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. In so doing, it also reveals the nature of the timelines the new timeline fractures. Previous timelines repeated cycles of new life, growth, and destruction, endlessly. When God entered our timeline fully in Jesus the new timeline begun was and is one of new creation and resurrection (the destruction of death and destruction itself). This is life without wars or end (Week 1), life full of righteousness and justice (Week 2), life whose ways are, from the perspective of the “usual” timelines, almost utterly reversed (Week 3). And it is all manifest already the birth of "God with us" (Week 4).
We begin at the end, and we stay focused on God’s ends throughout this season, precisely in order to see, contemplate, and marvel at the fullest implications of the birth and incarnation we will celebrate during Christmas Season. No other birth frees the universe from its timelines leading only to endless oblivion. This one did, and does, and ever will.
Advent is cosmic and cosmological in scope. In the readings, prayers, psalms and songs of this season we inhabit promises pointing not simply to one event in the usual timelines of human history, but rather the event that defines all timelines of the entire universe forever. We rehearse these promises, week after week, not simply pointing to the birth of Messiah, but to the whole re-orienting of the fabric of history and creation itself this birth unleashed and continues to unleash today. As we inhabit and rehearse these promises, we are enabled to see and experience more fully what the new timeline, initiated in Jesus, has opened up, is opening up, and will open up forever.
Advent thus gives us cosmic lenses enabling us not only to give glory to “God with us,” but to live as wise and faithful disciples of “God with us” here and now.
Through the keeping of Advent, we remember what time it is, and both which and whose timeline we’re really on.