Advent is the first season of the new year for those of us who are followers of Jesus the Christ. It marks the beginning of another opportunity to allow even the way we order our lives and our time to be oriented around the life of the Godhead. In the patterns of these seasons we are reminded to live in the flow of the life of the Trinity, to live and function according to God’s story, remembering that God is the central character and we are supporting participants.
So we begin this new year with God by celebrating Advent – a season marked by waiting and anticipation. We wait with anticipation for God to act, filled with hope remembering that God is still moving.
But Advent is also a season of longing. As we go about our daily lives, surrounded by the worlds perspective on this holiday, filled with stuff and more stuff, we instinctively know this is just a veneer. There is a longing in our souls and in the souls of everyone around us, whether they can identify it or not, for something more. We think we can fill that longing with gifts and beautiful lights, but the gifts will eventually be gone, and the lights will inevitably burn out, tomorrow, making the whole string go out!
But instinctively we long for something more. Something deeper. Something real and eternal to somehow be birthed within us. And if we are willing to sit with that longing and really allow ourselves to experience it in it’s fullness, we discover that this longing is actually a part of a longing the whole world feels, and has for a long time, since the Apostle Paul wrote about it to the followers of Jesus in Rome.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:18-23)
In the midst of all the present sufferings that are so easy for us to see – the hurt, the pain, the brokenness of our world – longing is naturally stirred within us and the whole of creation itself, desiring for God to finally put it all right again – longing for God’s final restoration to come!
Which is why in Advent, we don’t just look forward to celebrating the coming of Christ the Child, we also look forward to the coming of Christ the Victor. In Advent we remember that the longing we sense is not permanent – that someday God will make everything right again, Jesus the Christ will come again, and the longings we feel will be fully satisfied. And simply remembering that in Advent somehow allows peace to settle in our souls as a foretaste of what is to come.
“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79