The Longing of Advent

Advent. The arrival. The coming of someone or something important. The longing of a hero to come to the rescue. This is what’s behind the 4 weeks prior to Christmas Day. Longing for rescue. Celebrating the Christ child and what this means for humanity.

All these things we long for have a history of why we long for them. Why would anyone be waiting for the Messiah in Israel? Why would the princess long for the prince to come rescue her? Why would you want a hero to come. One word: distress.

We long for rescue when we’re in distress. Suffering creates longing. When things are broken and we can’t fix them, we call someone who can; or long for someone who has the skills to show up. Distress is at the heart of Advent then.

To properly celebrate Advent and enjoy the Christmas season to its fullest isn’t to think of only the happy things and joyful moments of life, but it’s also to remember the cry of our hearts that reminds us why we long for the Advent of the Christ child. The heart of Advent is a longing to be relieved from our distress, a waiting for the day when all things are as they were always supposed to be. Shalom. Universal peace and flourishing.

On this side of redemptive history, the longing for Advent is marked by distress, whether it’s distress in our lives, or in the lives of those we grieve with. So as Christmas Eve approaches, I’m reminded that I’m not just eager for the joy of a savior, but for the joy of a savior who is coming to alleviate the distress in my life and those I share the earth with. His arrival is a sign of this.

From the most unlikely of circumstances, as prophets foretold, God comes to earth to begin the salvation process by the means of a helpless babe, born to a refugee teen mom who’s never known a man, and a father who’s family tree is littered with promise and scandal, and the only family tree from the days of old that included women… brave, scandalous, promiscuous women, who God called righteous for their faith.

This is the savior who has come. He has turned the world upside down, he has included those who others exclude, touches the unclean, is friends with the sinners, and undoes the broken religious system by creating a community of people who long for him, for justice, for goodness, and who will do whatever it takes to follow him in a world of pain and suffering. This is the hope of Advent as well. That in our solidarity of suffering and longing… hope arrives and it does not disappoint.

Merry Christmas and may the peace of the Christ child be a fresh new reality for you this year.

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