In the Church calendar, Advent is the four weeks before Christmas. Much like Lent (the 40 days before Easter), Advent is a time of anticipation. Of waiting. Of Longing. I am not a “Christmas person.” I’m partial to Lent, actually; but Advent is a close second for me.
Although they take place in the same temporal space, Advent is the opposite of the busy/cheery/bright/extravaganza that Christmas and “The Christmas Season” have become. Advent is contemplative mornings with cold hands wrapped around a coffee mug. Advent is cloudy days and long, dark nights of reading by candlelight. Advent is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” hummed quietly to yourself. Advent is soul searching and doubt and uncertainty. Advent is waiting.
As a Christ-follower, I have become familiar with the tension of “now, but not yet.” God is restoring our world now, but the work is not yet complete. God plants a vision of the good life in our hearts and minds, but things have not yet come together. Everyone I know is broken, or grieving, or waiting, or longing. Everyone I know has difficult seasons to walk through. Advent is meaningful to me because it rings true to the real-life that my friends and I are living. There are bright and wonderful moments, of course there are. But overall, our projects are still unfinished. We are all waiting for something. The waiting can be lonely and frustrating. It can be confusing and hard. But the waiting is an important part of the story.
In my church community, we sometimes talk about the comfort that can come with knowing how the story ends. Advent ends with Christmas, the marker of the birth of a boy who an entire nation had spent years waiting for. Lent ends with Easter, the marker of the return of that same boy who a smaller group had spent three very anxious days waiting for. Our seasons of waiting end with sorrow or end with joy. Whichever way they end, we continue on believing in the promise of that boy who became more-than-a-man: love wins. God is transforming what we know and think is true, and in the end, it is love that wins.
The Christmas season noisily taking place around us can be especially hard for those of us who are living in Advent seasons of our lives. If that’s you too, I just want to invite you to embrace the waiting with me. Because we are all waiting for something. And that something will come. Love will win.