A THRILL OF HOPE, THE WEARY WORLD REJOICES!
I love Christmas. And advent. I love the preparation, the anticipation, the joy, the tradition and the nostalgia. Christmas is a magical time for children with the stories, legends of Santa Claus, reindeer, the gifts, the lights and the tree.
I still love Christmas as an adult. Christmas has taken on deeper and richer meaning as I have grasped, just a glimpse of the wonder that is the incarnation of Jesus; The coming of God to earth as human baby, messy and undignified in a stable.
I have also learned about advent. As a kid, we had an advent calendar with tiny gifts and they lit candles at church. I knew it was all about anticipating and getting ready for the main event: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
As I have grown and lost a lot of my childhood innocence, I have begun to view advent in a new way- a thing that we desperately need in this world. Advent is about anticipation and getting ready for Christmas, yes. But it is so much more than that. As I have grown, as is normal, I have learned about this world we live in. I have been grieved to see a world that feels like it is coming apart at the seams; Our world is consumed by judgement, hatred, rage, violence, racism, sexism, injustice, and hurt. People are suffering and dying from easily preventable causes due to humanity not caring for one another.
This hurts my heart. Pessimism and despair becomes so tempting.
An option could be to numb the pain by throwing this hurt into a locked box buried deep in my heart, never to be opened and reexamined. This, followed by the attempt to bury my mind in Netflix or my Pinterest boards. We all know that won’t help but actually cause further disconnection from the relationships that give this life and world joy.
But we have HOPE. On the first Sunday of Advent, a candle is lit for hope. This candle represents the prophets who hoped for the messiah centuries before he came. Hope. The longing in our hearts to see the world fully redeemed is a holy one. I believe God is in the tension of the already-not-yet Kingdom. We are surrounded by brokenness, but we know the Kingdom is here. We know the Kingdom is coming. It breaks our hearts and it should. God is inviting us to join him in the kingdom-building- Of course it will be uncomfortable and look a lot like work.
Hope is rebellious in a world that says despair is a reasonable answer. Kingdom building is a rebellious act. One where hope of the fullness of the kingdom come and faith in a God loving and faithful enough to make it happen does not seem reasonable to a world so full of pain.