In Pennsylvania Deer Season and Advent coincide on the calendar. Both seasons involve ancient rituals, observe time honored traditions, tell often-repeated stories, and encourage great expectations. Both involve the wearing of certain color-coded vestments: blue or purple for church; blaze orange for deer hunting. Both seasons have their origins in the wilderness. “The voice of one crying in the wilderness,” begins the Gospel of Mark, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Advent calls for a return to the sources of faith and identity, to the darkness before dawn where we can see through the eyes of our spiritual ancestors, who looked out upon the world in wonder and amazement and gratitude. As the first light dawns, it is as if we can witness the creation of the world, and the outrageous miracle of our being there to see it. Without wilderness, there is no Advent.
In Advent we are “hunting” for God, but, amazingly, God comes “hunting” for us. The
hunter becomes the hunted, stalked by a ghostly presence. Yet, despite our vulnerability, we find ourselves
without shame or fear, because this powerful being is the most
gentle of predators, the kindest of adversaries. To be swallowed by God is the happiest of fates.
To be ambushed by God is to cast out all fear. To be preyed upon by God is the epitome of
prayer. To die with God is to be reborn with Christ at Bethlehem, in Michigan, or in heaven.