Advent can sneak up on you. It is also a lot of work. But, as the season approaches, I get excited. This excitement is born out of the reminders Advent brings. The attention we give to connecting people with the narrative of Christ’s birth is important for the church and for each one of us.
Advent is a monthlong reminder of the hope we have in Jesus. It’s a reminder of the moment God broke into the world.
I’ve been thinking about three -reminders the Advent season brings.
Advent reminds us to stay connected.
Recently, COVID hit my household, and everything stalled. We had to stay in the house for two weeks. We didn’t see friends, and I couldn’t attend church in person. It was a lonely time. It felt like everything moved to the back burner.
When I finally got well and returned to seeing people in person, I realized how much I had missed. I had lost connection to what was happening in the world around me.
The Advent story speaks to the need to be aware of what’s happening around us. Mary’s song in Luke 1 comes from the voice of one who is connected. Mary is aware of what is happening. She is living the oppression. She knows of the injustices. This connection leads her to testify to what God is doing through her baby boy, Jesus.
When we stay connected to what is happening in our world, we can see what God is doing. For us in North America, isolation is easier than ever, but Advent reminds us to connect with the stories of others. We might not always fully understand everything that is going on, but our connection to the stories and the people gives us clues about what God is doing.
Advent reminds us to be prepared.
There is a saying that “if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” Preparation is central to the Advent story.
John the Baptist’s purpose was to prepare the way of the Lord. John prepared the people for what God would do. He called them to repent. He baptized them and gave instructions for how to live in the new age the Messiah would establish.
Those with two coats should give to those with none. Tax collectors must no longer cheat taxpayers. Soldiers should quit extorting and threatening people.
John’s message is for us, too. Be prepared. Get ready for God to do big things.
We prepare through our action. We call the powerful to repent. (Maybe we are the powerful!) We take care of the oppressed and the vulnerable.
Our actions make room for God to transform our world. God allows us to participate in the divine work of restoration and transformation.
Advent reminds us joy is still possible.
Let’s be honest: This has been a depressing few years for many of us. Through all of the sickness, financial struggles, climate disasters and political tension, I have gotten more pessimistic. I do not know how we can make things better anymore.
It seems that for every happy -moment there has been a terrible -moment. The circumstances I have gone through over the past three years have changed me.
And yet: Joy is still possible. I think of God’s people 2,000 years ago carrying God’s promise with them as they walked through the hardships of their lives. They were waiting for God to do something. God finally responded by entering their world — our world — to walk with us.
Advent gives me hope that God has not abandoned us. It gives me hope that God is moving, sometimes in mysterious ways.
As a spiritual practice, I have been taking a moment each day to say one thing that I am grateful for: my family, my friends, my church. This has helped me to keep positive thoughts at the front of my mind, even when my life is in chaos.
Advent is a gift. It is a time for reflection, prayer, connection and remembering. God decided to be with us, even when the world looks bleak. This Advent, remember who God is, what God has done and what God will do.