Advent: Waiting in Hope

It's the most wonderful time of the year! At least that's what the song says. Sometimes it feels like the most expensive time of the year or the time of the year for the most junk mail and targeted marketing. As the Thanksgiving holiday signals the unofficial start to the Christmas season, it's time to break out the Christmas music playlists and prepare for the big celebration on December 25!

But first, it's Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Whatever Wednesday, etc... There's nothing wrong with a good sale or end-of-year giving (in fact I can think of an organization that'd be happy to indulge your desire to give a tax-deductible gift), but it's so easy to be distracted from the meaning of Advent. Contrary to popular belief, Advent isn't exclusively a time to build a Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar or eat a piece of candy every day waiting for Christmas (although I'd happily spend my time doing either). Advent is primarily about hope, and, in some cases, hope deferred.

Advent is a season for lament. The world in which we now live is not the world for which we were made. It's fundamentally broken. The renowned poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow perhaps captured it best in his poem "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play,

and wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along the unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound the carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent,