It’s January, 2015. A new month. A new year.
And I’m still thinking about Christmas (In part because I still haven’t taken down my decorations, but mostly for other reasons).
Actually, I’m thinking about Advent. But you can’t really think about Advent without thinking about Christmas. It’s like thinking about pregnancy without thinking about a baby, thinking about an engagement without thinking about a wedding. I’ve lived through 20-some Advents, but only a few have really stuck with me. I have a hunch that 2014 is going to be one of them.
November 30th I read a blog post that recognized the start of a new season:
Advent starts today. Advent is a time of expectant waiting. It is a time spent in trembling in anticipation of Jesus’ glory and its impact on the world. I’m the most excited I have ever been about Advent this year.
I love Christmas so hard. It is the absolute best time of year…We as a human race are all being captivated by something at one time. We come together to decorate, celebrate and fellowship because we all see something big is happening.
The post challenged me to reconsider my perspectives and preparations. I had just finished my 30 days of Facebook Gratitude, and thought the season of Advent might warrant similar recognition. I opted for a daily practice of identifying the longing and waiting I saw in my life and in the world around me. I started with a post about two members of my church community who are waiting for healing in the midst of cancer. I continued to name a new person or group of people each day, committing to “waiting alongside them,” as they longed and hoped and prayed for jobs and justice and fertility and freedom, rain and restoration and healing and companionship. With each passing day, I felt the weight of empathy—the weight of the longing and waiting—grow heavier. In identifying desire, I identified absence, and often that absence was the evidence of a brokenness. I heard a member of my community describe it this way:
“As a collective culture we feel the weight of the world. We feel that things are not how they’re supposed to be.”