It’s officially December which means it’s finally socially acceptable to commit to Christmas music (sorry I’m team post-Thanksgiving. Can’t we all just give Thanksgiving a chance??) and watch Elf on repeat.
With talk of Christmas also comes talk of something else, something called Advent. Growing up we had an Advent calendar that made an appearance every December 1st. Each morning we would run to the kitchen with excitement as we checked off the next box, anxiously counting down the days until Christmas. I assumed that an Advent calendar simply meant a calendar counting down to Christmas which, in theory, is sort of true.
But Advent is so much more than waiting for cookies, movies, lights and everything else that comes with the Christmas spirit.
Advent is an anticipation.
Advent (noun): the arrival of a notable person, event, or thing.
I think the reason we love Christmas so much is because it’s the only time of year we’re able to fully embrace our longings and our wants. It’s a time when we can admit our neediness, that we don’t have everything we want and we’re missing something. It’s a time when we can actually communicate exactly what we want and need. For some reason Christmas gives us a free pass to finally and clearly express our expectations. While they’re not always met (because I’ll admit most of them are a little unrealistic) at least they’re expressed.
The Christmas season seems to be a sigh of relief as we're finally able to admit we're so desperate for more.
Unfortunately, most of us we express those needs in the form of a present as we think, “If I could just get ___ then I would finally be happy.” If I could just get that laptop, that camera, that outfit, that game then and only then will I be happy.
The excitement builds and the anticipation rises as we picture ourselves with our needs met and our dreams finally fulfilled. We look forward with hope to Christmas because we’re so sure that whatever is under the tree will save us. It’ll save us the time, the money, the stress, and the frustration. Christmas morning seems to be the sigh of relief that we’ve been building up towards all year long. We exhale and think “Ahh, finally…”
And it’s good, it’s so good, but if only for just a minute.
I think if we’re honest, honest enough to get quiet enough and still enough, we know that whatever’s under the tree won’t give us what we’re actually looking for. When the Christmas music fades, the outfit rips and the camera breaks and the gift cards are as spent as we are then we realize something’s still missing.
I don’t know what you’re waiting for this Advent season. Maybe you’re waiting for Christmas morning. Maybe you’re waiting for that present you’ve always wanted. Maybe you’re anticipating the arrival of Jesus and really tapping into the reason for the season.
The question hovers in the air more fragile than the first frost...what are you really waiting for?
Are you waiting for him, for her? For the date, for the proposal, for the wedding day? Are you waiting for the promotion or the interview? Are you waiting to stop feeling so lonely and to really feel understood? Do you have your fingers crossed with baited breath waiting to finally feel noticed? Are tired of being tired? Are you waiting to stop feeling as though you’ve been passed over? Are you hoping this could finally be your year? Are you waiting to lose the weight, to make the grades, to know where you’re supposed to go or what you’re supposed to be when you grow up? Are you waiting for everything to finally click into place?
Maybe. Almost. Not quite.
And yet, even these things still aren’t enough. Even if we’re brave enough to get here and admit that these are our hearts desires there’s a deeper groaning, a further longing just under the surface of these hopes and dreams and desires.
If we want to sum it up nicely and tie a bow on it I think we’re all ultimately waiting for three things:
We’re waiting to be seen.
We’re waiting to be restored.
We’re waiting to be loved.
Maybe you’re not into the whole God thing. And trust me, I totally get it. Christians are doing a lot of confusing shit right now so I don’t blame you one bit.
But if you walk away from your computer or your tablet or your phone knowing anything right now I want you to know that you’re not alone in your waiting. Everything in your entire being is waiting, hoping, and anticipating for something bigger and that’s a good thing.
You're just participating in the great chorus of your purpose.
“Let heaven and nature sing.”
And I want you to know that if being seen and loved and restored sound like the very things you’ve desperately wanted then they’re possible. Entirely and wonderfully possible. However many years ago God broke through the waiting to come and be with us, I mean actually be with us in all of our humanness and brokenness and our longings, to ensure we would finally know what it feels like to be fully seen, fully loved and fully restored in every sense of the word.
I hope we wrestle with the waiting this year. I hope we wrestle with the wanting and the longing only to wrestle with a God big enough to take the heat. I hope we find comfort in the fact that we couldn’t be unseen, unloved, or unrestored no matter how hard we try. God, infinite in his goodness, saw us before we could’ve ever even seen ourselves and simply had to come and be with us.
If that's not love then I don't know what is.
So, what are you waiting for this Christmas?