There’s no one in my life that loves advent more than my husband, Adam. No, not Christmas; Advent. The man loves some good liturgy, some good tension, and some good reflection. I thought it only fitting on this advent of advent today, to have him guest post about why he loves this season so much.
Advent is one of the best times of year. Not only is it the start of the liturgical calendar, but it is also when we set aside time to wait and anticipate the birth of Jesus. It’s the season set aside to prepare for the celebration of the moment that history forever changed on a humble night in a manager. It is the season when we are reminded that even though Jesus has already come, we are still in a time of longing, of waiting for the final Advent that will put everything right.
The problem is that we aren’t very good at waiting. We do well with anticipating. Our culture anticipates Christmas more than anything else, which is why we see sales and decorations and marketers dictating what will bring our hope, joy, peace and love before we have even finished deciding on our Halloween costumes. But there is a big difference in learning to find the significance in the waiting and trying to rush a celebration.
We look for significance around Christmas, but often, our search for significance centers around tapping into the sentimental longing that has made past years special. It is rare that our search for Christmas significance leads us to sit in the tension of the in-between. This is why people make a big deal about red cups being back at Starbucks or put a lot of effort into their Elf on the Shelf or listen to Christmas music for a month (or longer). We crave significance and wonder in the build up to Christmas, so we fill it with events and memories. And none of these are inherently bad, but I fear that when we fill our Decembers with too much activity, and we fail to sit in the unmet expectation.
There is an art to learning to wait, of realizing what it means to be in a place of yearning for an answer. Waiting is often uncomfortable. We consistently try to speed through this idea of yearning, of waiting, of longing to know and experience our desire. Our culture celebrates speed, rush, and hustle. And when we don’t have to wait, or we rush through the waiting, what we receive on the other end looses some of it’s value. It lacks the significance of the expectation we placed on it because our “satisfaction” was almost immediate. This is often met with disappointment and results in lowered expectations. But this idea of waiting for something for so long, and then finally finding it (regardless of what it is) is vital to our human experience. And yet we keep trying to fast forward the waiting process.
This is why I love Advent. It’s a set aside time to long for the long-expected Christ. To spend time preparing and anticipating the significance of a God who was so passionate for His creation that he would become Emmanuel, God with Us.
Everyone I know is waiting for something – longing for redemption in some area of their lives – whether it is a relationship, a job, a healing, or a conflict, but no matter what it is, we all wait. I want to learn to sit in the awkward unrest of unmet expectations, of learning what it means to find my joy, my hope, love, and a true peace in the significance of the humble birth of Christ. I want to be reminded that while I wait, redemption rushed to me. Father Richard Rhor says it like this, “the Incarnation was already the Redemption, because in Jesus’ birth God was already saying that it was good to be human, and God was on our side.”
God is on our side and during this season of Advent, and I want to learn to place my expectations in the coming of Christ. I want to be overwhelmed as the reality of a promise comes true in a stable. I want to live in constant hope for redemption for the world we live in, I want to yearn and search and struggle with what it means that a Savior is coming, like the wise men, shepherds, and priests of Jesus’ day. I want to live in constant expectation of a Holy God who is present and will return to his creation that is groaning with it’s need for a final redemption.