Advent is one of my favorite times in the church calendar. I guess it’s that sense of expectation and hope that draws me in. It’s a time of preparation, different from Lent, when there’s a sense of anticipated joy and hope not just from the ashes but at the end of a long journey. Maybe those are similar in your minds but to me there’s a difference. Take the Gamecocks. I know, I know. In many ways it feels like you’re living a life of Lent. From dust you came to dust you will return and to hear our statistics against Clemson, in having so few seasons where we’ve had 9 wins, etc. you would think there are ashes all around. But then there’s that sense of hope that comes with being a true fan. The hope that the unexpected will happen. Who in the heck thought we would ever see a day where we would go to the SEC championship? Who can forget that Alabama game early in the season? It’s the unexpected – the things that we don’t prepare for – the things that shock are socks off – the things that blow away our preconceived notions and judgments. These are the things that meet us where we are, root us to our core and it’s just CONTAGIOUS. It’s absolutely contagious. These unexpected and gamechanging experiences that open us to this season and greet us anew as we prepare each year – the joy, the beauty, the WONDER are contagious.
I can’t say it better than this clip does. I love it. It makes me smile every time.
To me – this is Advent. The world is looking like the girl with the smirk or the arrogant unimpressed Simon. There’s no way this frumpy woman has a chance in hades of doing anything but something pitiful and off key, but POW! It’s not just the surprise – it’s not just the huge unexpectedness of it all – it’s that in the midst of this beautiful thing – somehow people get drawn in. You see Amanda raising her hand with her to hit the high notes, you see faces transformed, and you see the lovely Simon grinning like a cheshire cat with dollar signs.
This is Advent. Not just a time of talking about dreams or what if or one days, but getting ready right now. Putting yourself out there right now. Going for it right now. It’s easy in the consumerism and the narcissism and the pessimism to let the weight of the world fall heavy on our shoulders. It’s hard in the lives of students right now to feel the full weight of the semester with assignments, tests, papers, group projects, etc., with most of them exhausted, sick and ready to have a break. It’s hard in the lives of teachers and parents trying to get through these last few weeks before Santa, Santa, Santa. It’s hard for those who have lost loved ones, who have lost jobs, who have no idea where money is going to come for electricity much less gifts. It is hard.
But Advent is so much more than just our personal worlds. It’s the inbreaking of the kingdom of God as God Almighty, the Great God of the Universe, became One of us. It’s the waiting not only for this child (the already) but for the Triumphant King (the not yet). It’s the waiting for justice and righteousness and all of the beautiful words in Isaiah 9:6-7 “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
So in this season of Advent I’m doing my best to focus on the thanksgivings. I’m doing my best to open my eyes and my heart to the unexpected all around me. I’m trying to not let the to do lists or the gifts to still be gotten or the Christmas cards that probably won’t happen or the people that cut you off in traffic or the things that constantly go wrong in the midst throw me off track in the midst of centering my heart and being present to the journey towards the stable.
I am asking God to wipe away my cynicism and my weariness and to fill my heart with the joy and wonder and Christmas spirit that’s more than a cheesey Christmas song or tv movie, but that is life giving and life changing. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.