It is only right that we start the year with waiting. What?
That’s right. The first day of the liturgical year is 4 Sundays prior to December 25th and it this season is called Advent. In case you are already confused, let’s simplify. The first day of the church new year is usually in November, not January 1st, as the calendar on the wall would say. And we begin with waiting.
Advent, as a season, is the balance of celebratory anticipation. As we celebrate the season, we are reminded of the Old Testament longing for the desperation for and the revelation of a Savior in Jesus. At the same time, we long for the return of Christ in the age to come. Its both, reflection and longing. Advent is a period of preparation, of tempered longing, but not of penance. Advent at its core is a season of joy.
So what do we do about the context of our modern world and the insanity that ensues this time of year? Let me go out on a limb and say that there is NOTHING about the worldly context of holiday celebration that is expectant and tempered and anticipatory. Matter of fact, some of the crazy can already be found in the aisles of craft stores. Merry Christmas…in August!
Before we go any further, you must know this about me. I LOVE the Christmas season. I love the build up and thoughtful gifts and generous outpouring of hope. I come from a family that has woven the love of celebration deep in my bones and heart and internal clock. But as an adult, the soul tending season of Advent as taken root and defined my context of celebration. I have no patience for those that sing “Joy to the World” on December 7th, because we NEED to learn to wait. We can celebrate, but to fully embrace the significance of the Christ Child, we need to place our heart (if not our decor) in a place of longing.
So, we enter the year with waiting. If you have ever had a season where the road was not clear or the outcome was not quickly revealed or the answer you longed for was not immediately given, you know about waiting. In the midst of it, it can be heartbreaking and hard. But for those that have waited and walked to the other side, you know that waiting is often our time of spiritual growth. For me, the advents of life are the times when my character is formed and my spirit matures.
Happy New Year!