The most wonderful time of the year...maybe? Do any of you feel the tensions of this season? The tension of being people of faith and turning on the radio and hearing O Holy Night sandwiched between Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bell Rock? The tension of being told it’s the most wonderful time of the year, yet feeling slightly deflated? The tension of wanting to have a holly, jolly Christmas, but finding your depression or loneliness or grief heightened so you just pretend? The tension of seeing images of happy family gatherings on TV Christmas specials, but your collection of people is...um...not that.
Then we come to worship, expecting to hear bits of the Christmas story, and we are hit with apocalyptic Gospels. It all feels minor. And so serious. Where are the upbeat, mood lifting Christmas songs?
Perhaps we could think of Advent less like a four-week pre-Christmas tailgate party and more like a shelter from the cultural storm of Frosty and Jingle Bells.
Advent is a season tension. The tension of uncertainty and hope. Of fear and longing. Of the now and the not yet. Advent gives us a container for longing, for patient (but not passive) waiting. Huddling together in the dark and the cold. We embrace minor songs and examine our lives, repenting and preparing for the most holy Christ child to come.
We stay vigilant because we know that God will come (has come, is coming), and that "the peace of God, which surpasses understanding" (Philippians 4:7) is always seeking a place to be born.
Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before…a revolution that means the world is being turned upside down, one small step at a time. What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you.
There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon. Let’s begin again.