Advent 2018: PART II
Long before anyone could consider the weeks leading up to Christmas “Nutcracker season,” the Church held them as a time of waiting and preparation for the arrival, the advent, of Christ. Devotees would reflect back on Israel’s long wait for the Messiah and connect their waywardness and their struggles to our own. Since the death of Christ, Christians have begun a second wait, a new time of preparation and participation in the Kingdom of God as we look ahead to the second Advent of Christ. We long for Him to come! It’s not alright down here!
My ten year old son (under the heavy influence of Tolkien) blew my mind the other night as we discussed again the “already not yet;” he likened this current age to “the last skirmishes of the war.” He is right. The war is won by our victorious Christ and our merciful Father. We have the help, companionship, and power of the Holy Spirit, but we are still fighting, still attacked, still wounded, still suffering.
When I first was introduced to the theology and liturgies of Advent, I was intrigued and relieved. “Wounded. That’s the word. That’s how I feel,” I thought. “I know The Light has come into the darkness, but the light reveals my need for healing.” I understood just how deeply I had been wounded and so began to see how we all are limping. Why should we pretend otherwise? Oh, there are thousands of reasons, and that’s just inside one person. As a race, our reasons to perform, ignore, medicate, suppress, overindulge, and otherwise deny reality add up to the millions. But for me the years of “it’s fine” and “I understand” did nothing to lessen pain. This truth, that denial has no curative power, was all I needed to trust the wisdom of centuries of believers and observe the season of Advent. That year, I threw out buckets of nutcracker ornaments, and I bought decorations that represented my real taste, things that bring me joy. I bought my crystal candlesticks for the four purple and one white candles.
PART III tomorrow!