The themes of Advent are particularly resonant and difficult this year. For me, this is in light of two major events, the recent election and the recent birth of my first child.
This time seems particularly dark and scary, and we as a nation seem in desperate need of light and hope. Many of us feel a more tangible and urgent need for the hope and promise of the incarnation to be born in us and our world again. Come, Lord Jesus.
Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed, as I often have during this Advent season, I am tempted to throw up my hands and do nothing. I guess I will just have to wait. But even when I would like it to be, the waiting of Advent is not the waiting that allows us to passively sit by. If you have waited for the arrival of a child, which this season is all about, you will know that although you do wait, it is a very active waiting. It is a time of preparation, of decorating a nursery, of washing tiny clothes, of celebrating with friends and family, of taking time to enjoy alone time with your significant other or friends, of trying to let it sink in that your life is drastically about to change. This time is filled with “nesting,” or cleaning parts of your home that you never thought to clean before (and then cleaning them again) and doing internal work as well — reading books, journaling, and reflecting –to be as prepared as possible for the journey ahead. There is so much to do before the little one arrives, and when she does, your whole life will be different.
This is the waiting of Advent. There are so many emotions in this process, including fear, but excitement and hope were the dominant ones for me. We need hope this Advent, especially when our context says hope is futile.
We are waiting for the light, but we have to be the light in the meantime.
We wait expectantly, actively, and in a state of preparation. As we wait for the arrival of the Christ child, we are reminded that there is always something to do. As we face dark times in our nation and our world, we do not passively wait. Let us actively wait with expectant hope as we seek to become the kind of people we are called to be and work to bring about the kind of world worthy of the child who will be placed in the manger, a world worthy of all our children.