Advent = Hope
Advent. A season of waiting. A season that invites us to pause, reflect, light some candles, and hope.
However, when I’m honest this moment in the semester makes this “season” seem impossible. These final two weeks are filled with deadlines, papers, exams, rehearsals, celebrations, campus traditions — and a desire to just get it all done. Maybe the desire to be done is the waiting part that works. We wait for the end of the crazy schedule, the demands, and the overwhelming “to do” list. However, an invitation to pause, be still, and reflect might even bring about a laugh of absurdity. I find myself almost thinking, “I’ll just do a couple weeks of Advent when the semester is over, that’s when I’ll have time for Advent.” However, I know that around the corner from the semester craziness is the list of other “holiday to do lists” … family traditions, gifts to be purchased, presents to wrap, people to catch-up with, and, hopefully, finally sleeping. It’s no wonder that Advent can be missed; it just doesn’t fit in the way the world tells us to “prepare for Christmas.”
In fact just the other night my daughter noticed a Christmas tree without a star on the top. After pointing this out, she said, “They aren’t going to get to have Christmas if they don’t get a star, right, Mommy?” I shocked her when I said, “They will totally still have Christmas, and they will even have Christmas without a Christmas tree, or decorations, or even presents.” She had wide and confused eyes and said, “But how?” I responded, “Because Jesus still shows up and is born even if we don’t have any of this stuff. God doesn’t need you to have the Christmas stuff; that is just something we do to add to the fun, but God doesn’t need it.”
That’s the crazy thing about God. God tends to show up in inconvenient, unexpected, and counter-cultural ways. That is why Advent invites us into a different kind of preparation, waiting, and a time of hope. Advent interrupts the craziness of the world around us — a world that tells us it is about what we have, what presents we buy, what our social calendar looks like, and how things should look perfect. Yet when the light of truth shines — not from dazzling Christmas trees and perfectly decorated houses — we see the shadows cast behind the facade, shadows filled with oppression, racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and more brokenness. In the face of this truth, Advent invites us into a time of preparation and a time of hope.
Sarah Bessey recently wrote, “Hope dares to admit that not everything is as it should be.” That is the type of hope we are invited to be a part of in Advent. It is a hope that begins not with songs of this being a wonderful time of the year or with shiny Christmas trees or even with lists of what we hope will show up in our stockings. Advent hope begins with leaning into the places of brokeness and shadow in our world. Advent preparation means being honest about the places of injustice and oppression that have tried to build walls to block out the light of Christ, the light of life, the light of love.
The word advent means “coming” and we are preparing not for the coming of Santa but of Emmanuel – God with us.
As we prepare for the Christ child of Christmas it isn’t about having trees with stars, or even whether we say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Having the Christ child as part of Christmas is to join in the unexpected, inconvenient, mysterious ways of God turning the world upside down so that those cast low are raised, those oppressed are freed, those cast out are welcomed.
Advent is a time where we listen and join in the song put on the lips of a young unwed teenage woman living under oppression who was given the responsibility of bearing the Christ child. I don’t think this pregnancy could be considered expected or convenient. Yet in the midst of all that, Mary sings a song of promise and hope. She sings as if the things God has promised have already happened, even as her daily life makes it clear they have not. May we all join in singing the song of hope….
And Mary sang,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)
Dec. 4, 2019
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future