Advent: Already and Not Yet

Image: Alreadyandnotyet

Here's a portion of the homily preached by Gregory Burch, one of my deacons, on the First Sunday of Advent. I found especially rich his conceiving of Advent as a love poem from God.

... It is true that the Season of Advent is dedicated to the last things, but at the same time the first thing. The season of Advent is dedicated to the unfolding of new life for us; through a new beginning born in a rude manger and, in the same breath, the coming of Jesus to finish his Easter work and bring peace and justice for all time.

As we move through the season of Advent we are exposed to the simultaneous push and pull of a dual reality. Advent reveals to us a harmony of tension between the “Already” and the “Not yet”.

"Already" recognizes that, in Christ, “The Kingdom of God has come to you”. “Not yet” tells us that its fulfillment is beyond human capability.

If there is any story of mayhem or destruction in Advent it is of our own writing. It lies in a thin fiction of our own making where “already” and “not yet” become a push and pull between God’s saving grace and our worst impulses.

Already Jesus has opened his heart bidding us come home on a true path. Not yet, reminds us that challenges of life sometimes turn our paths away from God.)

Not yet, can I forgive myself for those things that you, Lord, have Already forgiven me.

Not yet, do I entrust you with my life, though you Already breathe life into me and carry me in the palm of your hand.

Not yet am I ready to put aside anger and jealousy even as I Already bathe in your love.

Not yet, will I stop coveting money and objects, when you Already give me all that I need.

Not yet, can I face myself though you Already are my true reflection.

Within the season of Advent we see that the future is not a jumble in darkness in which no one can find his way. In the season of Advent the growing light of Christ rouses us to awakening to illumine the truth of ourselves.

The days of Advent distill our longing for Christ’s coming, and His presence in our lives everyday. Advent asks us to cast aside the Not yet of fear, the Not yet of self-delusion, the Not yet of mistakes and to surrender to the love, and live in the new beginning, that is Christ.

If the Season of Advent were a book I would file it on a shelf, right at eye-level, foremost among the great works of poetry. Advent is a poem of a bright new beginning.

Advent is a love poem written to us from God.

This poem of the season of Advent is set to the meter of eternity, the rhythm of our hearts and in the cadence of now.

In the poem of the season of Advent we are pregnant with Mary. We are filled with our hopes for future, our longing for love and our trust in God. We live each day carrying within our bellies the expectation and the reality of the divine.

In the poem of Advent all words rhyme with love. Even Already, even Not yet.

In the poem of the season of Advent every line contains hope as “we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our lord”

Advent is a love poem written to us from God.

And, we all Already know the substance of this poem for it is inscribed on our heart. “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again”

As we come to this sacrificial table the whole of the created universe responds to God’s presence and promise of a new dawn.

The whole of the created universe responds to the love poem from God, as we hear the first lines and the last lines, for they were written by Jesus himself: “This is my body, I give it up for you. This is my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant”.

God’s presence in our lives, today, the reality of Christ risen and the ever- unfolding promise of His coming Glory on earth. Already and Not yet, this is Advent.


  1. Man, that's good.

    I wish I'd written that :-)

    Dcn. G.

  2. I did like that homily....had really never focused on the Already and Not Yet and do like the thoughts he presented. It is always good to look at Advent (or anything) in a new way.

  3. Beautifully written. I have been struggling with our temptation to rush through Advent to Christmas and the Already and Not Yet had come to mind but I had not been able to put my thoughts into words yet. Deacon Burch did it so well. Thank you Father Austin for your page. The music is so wonderful. I love that you included "We Need A Little Christmas" :) The peace, love, hope and joy of Advent be with you all.


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