Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Advent Season

If you have read this blog for any period of time, you know that I love Christmas, even more than I love fall.  And one of my favorite parts of Christmas is the Advent season.  I love the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve and Day.  I love preparing for Christmas and focusing on what it all means.  I love the Christmas hymns and lighting the candle.

Last year, the Advent season was especially meaningful because that whole time was so hard.  I look back on last fall as a bit of a blur.  I read this article one year ago today, and I just cried.  I was in the midst of so many unknowns.  I was taking Gil in for weight checks and blood tests.  Jack and Bech had pneumonia (and Bech went through 3 rounds of antibiotics to get rid of his!).  Gil was colicky, and I hadn't had a full night of sleep since September.  Bech was in the midst of health issues on top of a super hard year of school.  Last Advent was hard.  

But that only made it more special.  

"Would we be so filled with joy at his arrival if we weren’t so filled with longing already?
If Christmas is for the joy, then Advent is for the longing.
As I learned in particular through our lost babies, one after another after another, the joy born out of suffering and longing is more beautiful for its very complexity. I am learning it again in these days in particular when so many are grieving and angry, sad and wounded from the pain of living in this world as it stands right now. The joy doesn’t erase the longing and the sadness that came before but it does redeem it, it may even stain backwards changing how we look at those days or years. But the joy is made more real, richer and deeper perhaps, because we longed for it with all our hearts for so many days."
"Now that I have wept, now that I have grieved, now that I have lost, now that I have learned to hold space with and for the ones who are hurting, now I have a place for Advent.

Now that I have fallen in step with the man from Nazareth, I want to walk where he walked into the brokenness of this life, and see the Kingdom of God at hand. Now that I have learned how much I need him, I have learned to watch for him.
Advent is for the ones who know longing."
And now we enter into another Advent season.  A month and a half ago, I was rereading my post from last year and thinking about how different things are right now.  My kids and husband are relatively healthy.  While many health questions were never answered, they aren't day to day factors anymore.  My children sleep.  Bech is done with school, and we actually get to see him again!  I don't do bath and bedtimes by myself (with a crying baby) most nights.  I realized I was coming into this Advent season so much more full than last year.

And then my friend's child almost died.  And there were terrorist attacks in Paris.  And I keep reading about the Syrian refugees (and so many hateful responses to them).  And another friend just had a life altering surgery.  

There is so much pain, so many tears, so much LONGING still all around me.

But this is the reality of our fallen world.  Every year, even if it isn't me, I will be surrounded by those who have grieved and who have lost.  I will be, as Sarah Bessey says, "holding space with and for the ones who are hurting."  

But praise God for Advent, because that means that there is HOPE.  During the next 24 days, I get to be reminded of that truth, that "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain" (Revelation 21:4).

And Advent will always have a place, every December, until,

"one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy!  The earth will shout out loud!  His fame will fill the whole earth--as the waters cover the sea!  Everything sad will come untrue.  Even death is going to die!  And he will wipe away every tear from every eye.  

Yes, the Rescuer will come.  Look for him.  Watch for him.  Wait for him.  
He will come!"

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