My soul craves advent. This is a deep and desperate longing that seeps in every year throughout November, and when advent finally arrives (as it did yesterday) I breath a sigh of relief. I feel at home in advent. Not the glittery, loud lead up to Christmas form of advent, but the quietly sombre and all at once hopeful form of advent.
The world is messed up, is broken, and yet, somewhere in the distance is the hope that everything will be transformed. I sit in the dark, lighting one more candle week after week. In advent I feel the invitation to lament and to be hopeful all at once.
Last night, 40 of us gathered together with friends of PiE, friends of First Mennonite Church, and friends of Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, to lament about all that is painful and broken in our lives and in the world, but also to seek nourishment for the journey, and in doing so, we found hope.
With the writer of Isaiah we cried out to God:
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would shake before you! As fire kindles the brushwood and the fire makes water boil, make your Name know to your adversaries, and let the nations tremble before you! When you did awesome things that we could not have expected, you came down and the mountains quaked in your presence! From ages past no ear has ever heard, no eye has ever seen any God but you intervening for those who wait for you!
Isaiah 64:1-4 The Inclusive Bible
It was a powerful time to be together and to express our grief, our pain, our worries for the world in words, in images, in music, in prayer and in silence. I’ve never been part of anything quite so sombre on the first Sunday of advent, but it felt right. At advent, we wait and long for God to break into the world in a real and tangible way, we wait for God to walk among us. But the longing and the waiting feels unnecessary if we don’t first acknowledge what is broken in the world and in ourselves, in what ways we long for God to intervene.
So, if your spirit isn’t quite in line with jingly music you here in the grocery store, take a breath and know that some sadness, some lament, is actually a part of this season of preparation. Name your laments. Maybe you grieve for the world’s political situation, or maybe you struggle with a personal loss. Stay with these feelings and don’t be afraid of them. I believe there will be a time when you/we will see God at work in the world, but that time might not be here yet.
For now, light a candle, lament, long, wait.
This is my first advent where my wife, new born and I all entered into a good rhythm of prayer around our make shift advent candles. We really enjoyed the rhythm and focuses that the Church of England’s Daily Offices provide. By far the most memorable and healthiest advent for me as a Chrisian. I appreciate your take and additional thoughts surrounding advent. They will make next year even more intentional.