So what is this Advent deal all about? Are you currently observing it? Let me just suggest you open up this link and listen to an Advent song while reading this post.
I’m fascinated with the idea of Advent because I have never actually celebrated it,
and this year I am taking time to feel everything that this time has to give. It’s almost a misnomer to say “celebrate” Advent because what I have found thus far is a sad season… one of longing and expectation for the day that is Christ’s birth. It’s a season that does not leave room for cheery Christmas carols or green- red sugar cookies. I’m finding that it’s requiring me to slow down, to stop… stop consuming, stop talking, stop worrying, stop making idols, stop running around… a time to stop.
Perhaps we have abandoned the idea of longing in our fast-paced, minute-to-win-it culture. Everything’s got to happen now. Pronto!… as it should have been completed ten minutes ago. We don’t long for things nearly as much because, well, we can have them right now. We speed up relationships. We speed up acquiring possessions. We speed up worship services. We speed up conversations. I think we’ve forgotten what it means to yearn… to long…. to ache for something deep within. Something that is surely coming but is not here yet.
It’s odd to have to actually plan to slow down, to set a date on the calendar in which you block out time to stop. To turn off the gizmos and gadgets. To be quiet. To just be. Without this time, we, as creatures of busyness, become unsettled. We numb ourselves and buy special mattresses to help us sleep and yet what we need is space to meditate, to reflect, to pray… a contemplative time which is required for us to arrive at thoughts that will be necessary for our future.
If no other time of the year, Advent is a time for this. To slap the busyness and commercialization of Christmas in the face. To reflect and remember who I am… what is my ethos? What is my purpose here on earth? What have I done with this year?
A time to long for what we don’t yet have. To expect. To be caught in the parenthesis of the past and what is surely to come.
The day is coming when we will celebrate, but it is not this day.
This day we long for what is to come. And when it comes, we know it will come with intentionality and significance.
At Communion this past Sunday, before serving the bread and wine, my pastors prayed that this bread would sustain us through this time of longing and stillness.
I pray that you too would be sustained during this time of longing. That you would be sustained with the bread of contemplation and reflection. And if this is a sad time for you, let it be. Embrace the pain and make it a part of you. For we must do this… our spirits are crying out us to slow down and find meaning.
We will celebrate soon. But for now, we long.
How are you observing Advent? I would love to hear ideas!
Chip Dodd, author of "Voices of the Heart", proposes that there are seven basic human emotions. Each of them have an empowered and an impaired state. They are empowered when you are able to fully experience them–when you do not retreat from their power and pain and do the difficult work of just stopping to sit with them to let them permeate your soul. One core emotion is gladness. Its impaired state is lust & material desire. Its empowered state is joy with sadness. Joy is easily enough understood, but why sadness? Because joy is an island in the ocean of human pain, and all human joys are fleeting. Joy with sadness embraces that this happiness is in this moment, and while I feel so good I am surrounded by many who feel so bad. Happy Advent.
This absolutely quantifies what I was trying to convey; I so appreciate the comment here. The idea of "empowered states" really appeals to me in that it would be defined by fully experiencing emotion. Letting it hurt in every part of you, or letting it delight in every part of you. Great stuff… I appreciate your contribution here.