I am a longing soul, and I just adore the advent season. It’s like it gives me permission to bring to mind and even conversation what seems so real to me most of the time. The state of things are in no way the way they are supposed to be. In my own little world, I encounter many sorrows, and when I begin adding them up with the friends and family and stories I know, it can leave me in a jumble of confusion and sadness. Indeed, we have been cursed. Indeed, sin spoils and ravages the glory and heart of mankind.
It takes me back to the garden, where all the confusion and mistrust started. It takes me back to that flash of hope in the promise that the child of the woman would crush the head of the devil. And so, we wait… we wait it out with Abraham and his people, through the enslavement, we wait through the judges, through the dark and quiet centuries, the many wars and battles, through the stories of kings and prophets, the many stories of crazy family drama. We wait with the new testament saints and churches, through the milliniums, waiting through the crushing realities of our own family histories and generations, waiting still each day… So. Much. Waiting.
Do you ever feel that? How long the Waiting Place is? Sometimes, it makes me want to do a long guttural groan or whimper, to give voice or at least space to how close to the end of the rope I feel with all the waiting, with all the incompleteness, with all the chaos and hurting.
And yet, on the eve of Christmas, the anticipation I can feel is almost tangible as I imagine young Mary laboring and waiting in anticipation with every part of her. What must it be like to carry the Son of God in your womb? To know that it is time to share this special baby who you have protected, carried, and known so intimately with the world? I can see the sweat on her brow, as she bears down and delivers the child. As mothers do, I imagine she pulled him to her breast, her entire body pumping with adrenaline and love and joy. She must have held him close and gazed into his eyes. And the angels filled up the sky with a song! Oh! how I wish I could have heard their glorious announcement! Good news! Joy to everyone! Peace and good will! And that star! The Light burst into the darkness quite literally and in every other way and realm you could imagine.
This narrative, this picture, helps me to hold on to hope. It’s a season, a rhythm, a celebration, an experience that my heart remembers and goes through annually. It’s a picture of hope. Of intention. Of promise keeping. It is fulfillment.
And Jesus came, I John 3:8 to destroy the works of the devil & to rescue his people. John Howard Yoder writes of the Original Revolution in his Advent essay, “The priority agenda for Jesus and for many of us is not morality or anxiety, but unrighteousness, injustice. The need is not for consolation or acceptance, but for a new order in which men may live together in love. In his time, therefore, as in ours, the question of revolution, the judgment of God upon the present order and the imminent promise of another one, is the language in which the gospel must speak.” He came to restore order to his creation. He came with an answer for our fallen condition. He came with a rescue plan that could not be matched.
The Hope of this Light helps me stay put when my circumstances seem bleak, when my heart aches, when my strength wains. This Hope helps me plod on through suffering, personal and shared. This Hope gives me courage to speak back to the demons and devils of the age with confidence and authority.
And so, I invite you to hope with me, that our Jesus, Immanuel, who came that sacred night, might also come to you and to me, wherever we find ourselves. And may you keep top of mind this Christmas, that though we do well to remember his lowly beginning, the innocence and sweetness of the baby, or even his majesty and miracles, he is a mighty warrior. Truth and love are his name and justice is his game! Lol! He can and does set us free, from the top of our head to the tip of our toes and all the nooks and crannies in between! Your broken heart, your broken start, your limits, weaknesses, and ugly parts. Everything he will make new. Every. Single. Part of you.
Keep waiting friends. Pour out your hearts to him as you do. And let your hearts be lifted as you remember this part of your rescue story, when Jesus burst onto the scene.