Finally, it’s the new year for the church. I don’t believe I have been more ready to welcome the season of Advent than I have this year. I have been craving something familiar, traditions that may look drastically different, but their essence is the same. I have been longing for something dependable, unchanging, stable, and full of hope and promise. I feel like these pandemic times have been preparing us all for the season. We know all about waiting. We ALL understand it. We have existed in a bizarre in-between time for almost a year. Our world has seemed, at times, apocalyptic. We understand what it means to have our community, our people scattered. We know the pain, grief, and lament of our holy rituals and traditions being tampered with. And yet, we have clamored to create a normalcy for these times. We have made some sense of the chaos, and have attempted to tame it. Many of us have learned to thrive, albeit with an adjusted scale, and not without regular ebbs and flows of familiar setbacks and loss. We have come to identify even more with the people of Israel through our shared experience of loss and deep longing for hope and redemption.
In many ways, our family won’t feel the tension of waiting on Jesus’ birth (or waiting on ole St. Nick) quite so intensely as in years past. We have done our best to see the light flickering in the darkness over these long and arduous months of isolation, remote learning, and constant togetherness. Although we have had many dark days, we have, thankfully, been able to surface from them all. Waiting has become normalized, but not without struggle. We have become less impatient, and have learned to take every day as it comes. Yet, somehow, I wonder if we even know how to receive good news these days. We have become so used to being let down and denied access to the things and people we love the most, that we struggle with how to react with unabandoned joy.
Perhaps that is what this Advent season will teach our family this year. We hear the voice crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. Maybe we must spend time learning how to receive good news again. For, the good news of the Christ child is one we can depend on. There’s no need to hold back emotion as if waiting for the other shoe to drop. Jesus will come, has come, and will come again. Those are truths we can hang our hat on. The incarnation is not dependent on a readily available vaccine or eradication of a horrible virus. The joy of Jesus cannot be taken away, truncated, or amended. I’m excited about having hope again. Hope in the certainty of Jesus.