Why I Celebrate Advent
Today I was surprised to read someone’s prickly remarks about Advent. Their comments watered the sacred tradition of Advent, its candles and liturgy and reflections, into the spiritual equivalent of weak tea. I was startled. And confused. But those comments led me to reflect and ask myself the question, “Why do I celebrate Advent?”
I celebrate Advent because I believe this crazy story that an angel came to Mary and told her she was going to have a tiny, helpless baby, God’s baby, whose name was to be called
Prince of Peace
I celebrate Advent because I believe this crazy story that angels lit up an inky black sky in tiny Bethlehem and proclaimed to some scared, gaping shepherds, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11 KJV).
I celebrate Advent because I believe this crazy promise from Isaiah long ago: “Unto us a Child is born” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV).
I love the sacredness of Advent. Amidst the crazy shopping malls and hopped-up frenzy of a so-called “War on Christmas,” I love Advent’s quiet waiting, its muted anticipation. I don’t need to shout “Merry Christmas!” over the beeping of a cash register to draw near to Jesus during this season.
I need to walk into Kansas City’s beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, have a seat in Helzberg Hall, and listen with pure wonder to the beauty and the holiness of Handel’s Messiah.
Then, I need to come home and play The Messiah over and over and over again.
I need to buy coats for cold children and gloves for frigid fingers and food for hungry bellies.
I need to curl up on the couch in the quiet morning stillness with my cup of coffee, my Bible, my book of liturgical Advent prayers, and my journal.
I need to sit around the dinner table with my family in the evening and light our Advent candles, our candles of Hope, of Faith, of Joy, of Peace.
I need to lie in bed at night, rest my hand on my belly, and imagine what it must have been like for Mary as she waited for this baby, this Promised One.
I need to listen as my grandpa opens his well-worn, well-loved Bible and reads from Luke 2 on Christmas Eve.
Tonight, as I sit and write these words, I wish for you, I pray for you, the quiet longing, the aching joy, of Advent. As these days unfold I will light my candle of Hope, my candle of Faith, my candle of Joy, my candle of Peace. And I will pray that you, too, will feel the warmth of hope, of faith, of joy, and of peace.
For unto this world, this world that is creaking under the weight of its grief, this world that is heavy with sorrow, this world that is splintered with evil…unto this world, a Child is born.
Unto me, a Child is born.
Unto you, a Child is born.