Advent is for the Weary
It's a cliche to say it but it's the truth; Christmas really is my favorite season. I love the music. I love the decorations. I love the feel of the holiday. I always have. And more than loving Christmas I've always loved the anticipation of Christmas. Even as a child Christmas Eve was a day I held in more joy than Christmas day. I loved the feeling of my sister and mother and me at home all day wrapping presents and waiting for my dad to get home from work. Then, I could put on my beautiful dress and go out in the dark to the Christmas Eve Service at church. The service where we would all light candles and sing Silent Night and I would get choked up. And after service we'd go to my Aunt's house to change into our pajama's, eat snacks and stay up late because after all there was no school in the morning.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Christmas morning, but oh the lead up. The waiting. The anticipation. It was just as exciting to me. And it was what made the letdown after Christmas so much harder. It wasn't just that Christmas was gone, it was that the anticipation of its next arrival was the furthest amount of time away it could be.
When you feel like a stranger in church, the holidays are the worst part. Easter, Christmas, the moments in our liturgical calendar that mean the most to us become minefields and pressure points you would do anything to avoid. It's like pressing down on a bruise; a brutal reminder of the pain you've almost forgotten. I've been waiting to feel better. I've been waiting almost a year. And some days it feels like I'm back to normal. And other days the pain is just a fresh as if it happened seconds ago. And I was worried about Christmas. Worried about what my favorite holiday would feel like in this "new normal." In this space of hopeful waiting; but also of weariness in the waiting.
And then I started reading the Advent stories. And I was reminded of what this time year is truly about. Yes it's about the coming of our Savior. But more than that. It's about how our Savior came into a world that had been waiting so long for him. A world that was weary with waiting. A world that was overrun with injustice, and war, and fear, and occupation. Into this weary world that had almost given up hope came what the world most needed.
Into the world of a young unwed teenager, who's very gender made her value contingent on her purity and marital status, burst forth a spirit who gave her a voice for injustice. Read the words Mary spoke after the angel told her of her role in the birth of Christ. Her Magnifcat. She calls down oppressors and lifts up the weak all in the name of the Lord who's body she carries in her womb. See yourself in Mary. Know that you have a voice that is powerful; use it.
Into the weary world of a woman who was barren and had no hope of continuing her family legacy burst forth a spirit that gave her longevity beyond her wildest imagination. Elizabeth had no more hope. She knew what her life would be like. Until all of sudden, everything changed. See yourself in Elizabeth. Know that your story is not over; your second act is coming.
Into the weary world of shepherds who were going about the every day business of their jobs burst forth a spirit of great joy. This spirit gave them a message; a message for everyone. And it was their job to tell it. They were ordinary men, living their ordinary lives one second and the next second they had a purpose beyond their wildest dreams. See yourself in the shepherds. Keep doing the every day work set before you. Nothing you do is inconsequential.
I am weary of this world. I am weary of sexual harassers getting away with their crimes. I'm weary of The Church I loved and matured in turning a blind eye to the sins of our world. I'm weary of people I love and respect pushing me out of their circle because they think I'm no longer one of them. I'm so weary. Are you? If you are...good! You're right where you should be. Because Advent was made for the weary. It was made for those who are clinging to hope with their fingertips. Advent isn't for the certain. It's for the uncertain. Read the verses. Listen to the songs. They're all about God reminding the people they have not been forgotten.
You have not been forgotten.
The Savior has come.
Read the words of Mary. The promises of God. "He has brought down princes from their thrones, and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands."
You may not feel at home in church this Christmas but that's okay. Remember that Christ already has his home...in you. His beloved. The one he could never and would never forget. He has come for you. Let that truth fill you with a new hope; with new joy. Joy comes to those wait on the Lord. Their strength is renewed.
Advent is here; and the Advent season ends with an arrival. Your hope is coming.
Don't lose heart.
You haven't been forgotten.
This whole season exists for you.
Prepare him room.