“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” – John 1:9
I didn’t know about Advent until 8 years ago when I heard about my new church at the time making advent wreaths. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this, especially if you come from a non-denominational, non-mainline, or non-Christian background, or if your church doesn’t really observe the liturgical calendar (and that’s perfectly OK! You will live!)
I didn’t know all the facts about Advent until 3 years ago, when I worked for a church that celebrated/observed Advent and therefore wanted me to express it through worship. Here’s the skinny on what it is:
- It’s the month leading up to Christmas (Jesus’s birthday)
- There are four Sundays, each with a different theme
- It’s all about the anticipation and preparation of the birth of Jesus, and it can also be about anticipating the return of Jesus.
- There are many resources, devotionals, and guides to Advent.
- There are wreaths, colors, and candles involved. Also, songs. Think “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”
I didn’t personally connect with Advent until this year. To me the month of December is a time of joy but also one of making travel plans, wrapping gifts, sending cards, attending holiday parties, and eating baked goods. It’s been hard for me to really connect to this anticipation side of it. I mean, the jig is up – Jesus was born, right? What was it all about? But then there were two moments that were crucial for me this year that made me pause and connect in preparation, and I wanted to share them with you.
- The Headlines. Ferguson. Eric Garner. ISIS. To name a few. Protests, civil unrest, and demonstrations on both sides of the issues. There are so many thoughts that I had about this, and just watching the reactions (or the non-reactions) of the people around me really had me in a state of lament.
- The Interns. I’ve learned so much from our worship interns so far, and one of them is understanding and watching how they experience Advent. Some were exposed to Advent for the first time, and to walk with them in that awakening has been a gift. I gave them an assignment to write a mini-paper about why church communities would celebrate or not choose to celebrate Advent, and what they wrote was so interesting. All this talk around this anticipatory month heightened my awareness around it, simply by creating a space to reflect on it.
I really feel the weight of the world right now- injustice, dark power, oppression. I wonder… why did God send a little baby?? He should’ve sent an army to obliterate sin and save us!
And it’s not like I have an answer or would attempt to say anything in reaction to this connection. I’m soberly grateful to have made the connection this year, and I hope it continues to grow in years to come. I guess my only response would be a longing for Jesus. Come Jesus, come!
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1: 14