I love the season of Advent. I didn’t grow up in a liturgical community, yet I am drawn into the celebrations of the church year simply because of the focus they bring to my life. Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Advent each uniquely centre on the Christ’s presence with us not only 2000 years ago in Palestine, but in reality.
Advent is a season of waiting. Symbolically, we await the arrival of Jesus, the promised Saviour of the world. In real life, we are waiting (some more eagerly than others) for Christmas Day and what it brings. Bringing the focus back to waiting is important in our “I want it all and I want it now” world. Reflecting on this hopeful anticipation, Henri Nouwen writes:
Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the Ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.
Waiting for God is an active, alert — yes, joyful — waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes. (from In Joyful Hope: Meditations for Advent)
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Here is a reflection on Advent from StillSpeaking’s Tony Robinson:
“ . . . You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.”
I like Epiphany, I respect Lent, I wish we did Eastertide more and better, but it’s Advent that I love.
I love gathering greens from the cedars in our backyard to fold around the Advent wreath. I love the new purple candles, ready and waiting. I love getting out the silver candle snuffer that a college professor gave us as a wedding gift and laying it beside the wreath.
I love the first, haunting strains of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” on the first Sunday of Advent. I wait eagerly to sing, “Watchman Tell us of The Night,” and “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry.”
I like purple.
I love that when the stores’ Christmas decorations are already getting tired, Advent is just getting going. I love lighting candles around the house as evening comes and laying a fire in the fireplace. I like hanging the Advent calendar on the wall, and taking turns opening one window a day.
I like the waiting and the watching, and the anticipation. My grandmother, Victoria, used to say, when something good was coming, that she had, “The Anticipates.” Advent is a season for “The Anticipates.” It may be dark now, but a change is coming.
I like the Advent idea of “keeping faith, hope and love alive in the midst of dark times,” because that’s where we so often are and so often need to be. I love that, just when we want to hibernate, Advent says, “Wake up,” startling me like a noon factory whistle. “Wake up,” says Advent, “the world is open at the top.”
I love that when anxiety and fear seem to be so all-over-the-place, Advent’s call to be alert isn’t about fear but hope; that Advent isn’t for mad anxiety but glad urgency. I love the mystery of it.
Advent is a season I love.