When do we begin to hope?
Advent arises from our yearning. It taps into that deep longing that can only come from a place of deprivation, can only come from lack, can only come from knowing that we are missing something that we desperately need. And so we wait. We wait the four weeks for the arrival of a sign that things are changing.
The sound of Advent this year is the sound of war. The incessant bombs in Ukraine have given way to bloodshed in the Middle East: terror attacks in Israel and bombing in Gaza. This Advent (like many before it, to be sure) taps into our deep longing for a world at peace.
In the season of Advent, we confront our hopes and our fears. In Advent, we take on the risk of hope. In Advent, we open ourselves to the possibilities, however remote they seem, that maybe, just maybe, this stuff is real and that Christmas changed everything.
The familiar Christmas carol, The Little Town of Bethlehem, speaks truth to us about the Advent journey ahead. The first verse ends this way: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
“Since ancient times,” the prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”
Advent hope speaks to us as people who have been back on our heels for far too long. In Advent, we begin to lean forward -forward on our tiptoes- in anticipation that something is coming. Something is coming that will change everything.
Can you hear it? Can you see it?
This Advent let’s begin to lean forward together.