Jessie, my youngest daughter, has an app that plays Christmas music while telling you how close it is to Christmas. As I write, Christmas is exactly 4 days, 17 hours, 17 minutes, 32 seconds and 543,790 heartbeats away. Oops, I mean, Christmas is 4 days, 17 hours, 16 minutes, 55 seconds and 543,735 heartbeats away. Wait, now it’s…well, you get the idea.
Jessica is anticipating the arrival of Christmas. Since before Thanksgiving, she has been planning, preparing, decorating and getting ready for the big day.
For Christians, we call this the season of Advent. The word advent actually means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. When we talk about the season of Advent, we’re referring to the waiting, anticipation, longing – even yearning – for the arrival of Jesus.
During the season of Advent we acknowledge that a Savior is coming, but He isn’t here yet. Hope is on the way, but we haven’t experienced the joy of it yet. Advent acknowledges the integrity of a promise made that has yet to be fulfilled.
The Jewish people were well-acquainted with waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. Four hundred years of slavery longing for God’s deliverance; four hundred years of silence waiting to hear a word from God. Centuries of enduring oppressive rule from polytheistic while anticipating the arrival of God’s Kingdom.
At Advent we’re allowed room to acknowledge the pain and longing that often accompanies the waiting. This is incredibly freeing because, for many people, Christmas can be a less-than-holiday-cheer-and-merriment time of year.
- Many of us are living far away from people we love and not being able to them during the holiday makes Christmas a lonely time.
- For some of us, Christmas can be a painful season. Someone who was with us last year isn’t here this year. That hurts. The pain is still fresh and real.
- For others, Christmas is difficult season of year. Financial pressure, relational struggle make the celebration of Christmas seem forced. It’s tough to navigate the tension and put on a cheerful face.
Advent invites us to be honest with our grieving, disappointment, longing and loneliness. We acknowledge the world of deep darkness in which we live and desperately wait for and long for His light to shine upon us.
I don’t know what this year was like for you. This year may have been a great year. But perhaps this year, you have a greater understanding of the longing that accompanies advent. Perhaps you’ve experienced unexpected loss, pain, heartache or unimaginable disappointment.
Advent says, “It’s ok to feel that way.” You don’t have to fake happy, push through or prop yourself up. Advent acknowledges the longing in our soul, but contains the expectant hope that our story is still being written.
Advent is a hope-filled reminder that what is broken will someday be repaired; what is hurt will someday be healed.
The extravagant promise of Christmas – even though darkness may surround me, the light of Christ will shine upon me once again. A baby is coming. He’s not here yet, but hope is on the way.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:21-23