Advent!

Today begins my favorite season of the year – the days leading up to Christmas. I love everything about Christmas – the hustle and bustle, the lights, the songs, the parties, the time spent with people we love, and most especially – the worship. This time of year is so fraught with great themes. Light in the darkness. Hope in troubling times. Incarnation. Sacrifice. Life. Death. Eternity.

For some who share my profession this time is a time of weariness. The joy of Christmas is stolen by the grind of work. I understand this, and I certainly have experienced moments of weariness and frustration and despair during this season. But I fight against allowing myself to feel that way about Christmas in general. For me, it is extremely important to find moments of celebration and moments of worship even in the midst of this busy season.

One of the ways that I do that is through my blog. So for the second year in a row, I will be writing a daily Advent Calendar here. I will read the Scriptures, and invite you to read them with me. I’ll post pictures each day that will help reflect the reading and the idea that I am writing about.

Today it begins with hope. Long before Jesus was born, there were prophets who spoke for God. Often they delivered messages of doom to a people who had wandered astray. One of my peers likes to call them the grumpy old men of the Old Testament. But in the midst of all their doom and gloom, hope was also present. And the hope was the Messiah who was to come. Jeremiah wrote these words:

“For the time is coming,”
says the Lord,
“when I will raise up a righteous descendant
from King David’s line.
He will be a King who rules with wisdom.

Jeremiah 23:5 NLT

 

For centuries the people waited. They read these words in worship and dreamed about what the Messiah, the righteous descendent from David’s line, would be like. I believe they didn’t have the slightest clue about what God had in mind. But still, they turned to these words for hope. Because they knew that God’s promises would be fulfilled, that the Messiah would come, eventually.

Our season of waiting is so much shorter than theirs. We have less than a month to enter into patient waiting for the Messiah to come. And yet, as we enter this season,I give thanks for those ancient writers, who bled hope on to scrolls so that God’s people would not grow faint of heart.

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Anticipation…

I’ve alluded to the fact that Advent is almost here. Where I live, signs of Christmas are beginning to pop up all over the place. I came out of my house for choir practice this evening and noticed that some of my neighbors have put up their Christmas lights. We have begun practicing Advent anthems at choir. And there are signs on all of the streets surrounding my house warning that the streets will be closed this Saturday for the Santa Claus parade.

I always have a struggle at this time of year. Truth be told, I am sorely tempted this weekend to put up both of my Christmas trees, my nativity set and my lights and decorations on the front porch. I want to rush into it.

I have a problem with wanting to rush things before their time. I have a problem with, a lack of, patience.

But I am trying to take my time this year. I WILL put up my nativity set this weekend, but I will hold off on the trees and lights until the end of the month. Because it isn’t time yet. Advent is a season of anticipation. To anticipate you have to hold off a bit. You have to have patience. You can’t just rush to the good stuff, you’ll miss the anticipation entirely.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) says:

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

I am trying to let things be beautiful in their own time. Instead of rushing them along. I love the thought that there is eternity in our hearts, but we still can’t see all of what God is doing. Is t that the truth about humanity? We have some sense of longing for – and even some understanding of – the things of God. But we can never fully understand them.

In the end, God remains a mystery. And for once, that is not causing me concern or anxiety. Instead it seems inordinately beautiful.

In December, in its time, I will begin my second annual Advent Blog. Until then, may we all find rest in the One who is the most beautiful mystery.

Seasons…

I should know this by now, but I seem to have to learn it over and over and over again: to everything in life, there is a season (my own paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 3:1). For the past couple of weeks, I have been going througha silent season, in which I haven’t felt much like blogging. My energy has been lower than normal, the days have gotten darker and colder, and generally I have just felt too tired to write.

So, not the greatest season. But. BUT, the thing about seasons is that they change. From one to the next, they transform. And today, I truly feel like I have turned a corner. I am entering a new season. I feel words pressing against my brain, waiting to be written down and shared. I feel hope, like a warm glow in my chest, beginning to grow. I feel close to God in a way that I haven’t for a little while.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but for the first time in a while, I find myself anticipating tomorrow with a smile instead of a grinding of teeth. I am entering – I hope, and I pray, and I worry about even writing it out because, O God, what if I jinx it?! – a good season.

Advent is not far away (two more Sundays! YAY!) and I am anticipating this season of anticipation.

You know what? I am just happy and blessed and thankful and aware of all the things for which I ought to be thankful. It’s a good place to be, and I wish all seasons could be like this. Still, I know the tough seasons have so much to teach me, and they make the good seasons shine all the brighter.

My friends, whatever season you are in, may you know that God is with you there. May you feel His peace surrounding you in times of trial and may you sense His delight in times of rejoicing.