I'm not very good at Advent. It's December 11 now, right? The season is halfway over, and I've been thinking for the last eleven days, "Oh, I wish I was following an Advent reading plan. Maybe I'll find something for tomorrow."
It's good news that Advent hinges on a Savior who came for the people who don't have it together.
Still, I'm thinking about Advent today. What does it mean to wait with anticipation and hope? These words fly around for 25 days a year, and I don't want to take them crusty and stale. I want to chew them fresh, write them on my forehead and wonder at their meaning every new morning.
When God collided with earth, and the angels told stinky and huddled shepherds for whom no other living being wasted a thought that night, who was ready for that? Who thought out of all the nights to break Heaven's silence, that night would have been the one? The silence was becoming comfortable, I suppose. If not comfortable, at least normal. Certainly 400 years of no prophet, no message, was easier to swallow than a King coming in a way that no good Jew could rally behind, ready to take the towel of servanthood instead of the crown of the conqueror.
I, we, have the story. We believe the miracle, count it as history that really happened, and yet still. Who is ready for our King to come? To see the clouds split even and the nations gather before a throne - does this read to us as brilliant sci-fi or as reality of truer mass than this table, this chair?
To celebrate the first advent is to proclaim the second. Christ came, and He is coming.
Amy Carmichael wonders this, "What will it be like to see Him whom I have known for so long, but never seen? To adore His beauty; to worship Him in holiness? What will it be like to see Him, crowned with glory and honor, who was wounded, bruised, oppressed, and afflicted...what will it be, when faith and hope fade out of sight--and only Love is left? What will it be like?"
Faith and hope. The rocks on which Advent is built. Faith that He came. Hope that He will return. At the final end, when there are no more candle wreaths, no more pine trees with popcorn wound, no more heartaches and marriages cracked wide open, no more death for those much too young, at that end, there will be love.
And so we take heart. Advent grows old. It's end is coming - and it's one aging in which we can wholly delight.