We are now in the first week of Advent, a season in the church year filled with waiting, and preparing for Christ’s arrival. This Advent feels a bit different. I am not sure about the rest of you but I feel like I have been in a state of longing and waiting for nine months— longing and waiting for things to be different, to gather with those I love, to hug those I care about, and to not walk out my door with a looming sense of risk. Even our preparations might look different as gatherings with family and friends just are not happening or are being done through a screen.
The radio blares “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” and I wonder… “Is it?”
I don’t feel the same joy that maybe I have in other years.
This year, the word that my family has focused on for the first week of Advent is hope. The thing about hope is that it is an acknowledgement that things aren’t how they should be. Hope is an acknowledgement of brokenness, pain, and hurt because it is grounded in a longing for things to be different. Having hope in Advent is acknowledging that our world is STILL in need of Emmanuel, God with us, to bring about God’s “kin-dom.”
All around us we see the divisions between people. The pandemic has revealed a great divide among those who can weather this kind of storm and those who are impacted more greatly because of their daily economic and health insecurity. The divisions that separate us from truly hearing one another and seeing one another. Advent hope is a hope of reconciliation, hope in a God who can restore our sense of community and love for neighbor.
All around us we see the heartache in our communities. We see those who grieve over Zoom funerals. We see those isolated in their sickness. Those struggling to access the support they need. Those overwhelmed by mental health challenges. Our Advent hope is a hope of healing. A hope for Emmanuel, God with us, even when we feel isolated and broken.
One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “O Holy Night” which sings, “The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” Advent invites us to be honest about our weariness. Advent invites us to name our longings and our waitings. Our hope comes in proclaiming the truth that the world is not how it should be, and that God’s in-breaking is about turning things right-side up.
So we mark time, lighting a candle for each week of Advent. Proclaiming light in the midst of all that seems overwhelmed by the shadows of injustice, brokenness, and division. We pray, stir up Your power, O Lord, and come.
Dec. 2, 2020