Happy New Year!
That’s right, I did not confuse my holidays. Today is the first day of the Church calendar. It is a new year. The liturgical year begins 4 Sundays prior to December 25th and this is the season of Advent. We begin with waiting.
Advent, as a season, is the balance of celebratory anticipation. As we celebrate the season, we are reminded of the desperation for and revelation of a Savior in Jesus. At the same time, we long for the return of Christ in the age to come. It is both reflection and longing. Advent is a period of preparation. A time 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.
I LOVE the Christmas season. I love the build up and thoughtful gifts and generous outpouring of festive cheer. I come from a family that has woven the love of glittery 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 2nd, 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 posture of preparation and longing.
So, we enter this 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 a time of great spiritual growth. For me, the advents of life are the times when my character is formed and my spirit matures.
This year, I am intentionally committing to a short daily Advent writing. I am purposely adding to my seasonally busy plate because I have to force myself to slow down. There is no better way for me to do that than to take intentional time to write and reflect…on my bathroom floor, of course. I join with all of those that need discipline, as by nature we race past the HOPE, LOVE, JOY and PEACE of Advent in favor of the sales and wrapping, and decorating and parties. If these things bring you life, do all the things, my friends. They are good and fun and right AND chose to find the things that slow your soul. I will read and write and mediate on scripture. I will be still in the longing.
It is my prayer that you will join me on this journey. Send me your Advent thoughts and reflections and stories of growth. Tell me of your longing and hope. Remind me again that not all waiting is easy, as some of us will feel great pain in this season. We are never alone as we journey toward the manger. For thousands of years, this pilgrimage of faith reminds those that wait that there is a way.
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”
O Come, O Come Emmanuel