This past Sunday we celebrated the first week of Advent. In our culture today, Advent also signals the beginning of the Christmas holiday season marked with tinsel, eggnog, shopping, Christmas trees and all of the fun, festive, family traditions.
However, lost in the frenetic energy of the season is the true definition of what Advent is all about. Advent is not about our best world. It’s about our worst world.
The prophet Isaiah summed it up beautifully:
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
Advent is about a darkness that pervades our souls, communities and families. It’s about living in a world full of brokenness, injustice, suffering and death. It’s about our hearts being welled up with guilt, shame and regret.
An example: Last Friday night, my wife and I took our three daughters to the downtown Seattle Christmas tree lighting ceremony. This has been a tradition for us over the years. We were met by protesters who were voicing their displeasure with the Ferguson, Missouri decision and were attempting to overtake the lighting. Inevitably, it did cause the Tree Lighting ceremony to end prematurely, along with the adjoining mall. People were upset that the ceremony was suspended and that the mall was closed. I saw many folks who were visibly upset that this Christmas tradition had been ruined for them.
For me, it was a great example of Advent. We can get caught up in the superficiality of the season, but underneath all of this is a longing for things to be made right. Light is coming into darkness. There is a yearning, a longing, a waiting for things to be made right. That is Advent.
Isaiah says a light is dawning. It is dawning into our hearts and in our communities. He goes on to describe the light:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
A Seattle Church is celebrating Advent through the series, Be Loved, Live Loved. This series is all about how the light of Jesus breaks through into our hurts, pains, struggles, addictions and shows us that no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, we are a loved people. This light of love will never cease or burn out. It’s constant and real.
We just get to receive it, trust it, and enjoy it.
Photo credit: SeattlePI.com