Maybe it’s the pressure to be happy. Maybe it’s the fact that every ornament you take out of the storage box holds a memory. Maybe it’s the drive to make this year better than the last one. Whatever it is, there’s something that can be emotionally exhausting about Christmas. In the midst of an anticipated season, there are those of us who are acutely aware of our loss and pain.
Advent means arrival. Often during this season, people anticipate family, food and all things Christmas. However, advent is a different kind of arrival.
More than a holiday, more than family, we are desperate for advent. Advent is the coming of the Lord to earth. Advent is the introduction of the divine in human form interrupting the world’s despair with hope. Christ’s arrival brings relief, rescue and redemption. Advent is the Gift of Life taking on flesh and rescuing us when we need it most. It is Christ’s movement through our imprisoned souls. Advent is the joy manifest because the Lord is come.
Advent is the arrival of the holy. It’s the arrival of the God who rights the wrong, who picks up those of us who can’t stand on our own, the God who breathes life into collapsed souls.
Advent heals at a deep level. It doesn’t always feel like healing because it’s far from a bandaid or salve.
It’s nothing like distraction from pain or a happy glaze.
That’s because Advent is the movement of God to make things as they should be. When Jesus came to earth, he inaugurated the Kingdom of God, and in this kingdom, death doesn’t have victory.
Pain doesn’t get the last word.
There is something that advent says to us, that even in the midst of real pain, the pain that makes it hard to get out of bed and hard to think about tomorrow, there is hope. Even when our loss is all we can see, Hope has come to earth in human form.
Advent is for those who are waiting for relief, rescue and redemption. It’s for those of us who are stuck in positions of flux, pained and frustrated, discouraged and alone.
Advent has little impact on those who are content. The arrival of the Savior is for the hurting, for those aware of their lack, for those who aren’t already dancing or singing or rejoicing. Advent is for those aware of the reality of pain and the fragility of life, those who are aware of their own desperation for a Love that is bigger than what they can see. It is in the midst of loss that we are most prepared for the season of Advent.
Our world is broken. Hearts are shattered. Relationships are splintered. Loss is real and it’s hard to find relief. There are no easy answers.
There is only advent.
There is only the reality that Jesus has come and is coming again.
The Israelites expressed deep longing and sorrow in song after song—How long, O Lord? The Israelites were desperate for advent. People were waiting for the consolation of Israel.
Jesus is Light and Life. Slowly, but surely, the light is poking holes in the darkness. This light is bringing sight to people ruled by blindness, injecting joy where there shouldn’t be joy and bringing peace in places we didn’t expect. And for those of you today, longing for relief, healing and comfort, advent is for you.
The arrival of Jesus is for you.
The darkness isn’t yet obliterated, but there are pockets of light. In the chaos of the shadows, there are flickers of peace. God is instilling hope and we each are carriers.
Advent, the arrival of Jesus, calls out darkness’ limited nature. Our pain is great. May God’s mercy be greater.