Longing for Advent

So what are we to make of Advent? 

We light the candles and talk about hope and peace and joy and love. In churches using the lectionary cycle of scriptures, ministers wrestle with how to fit a wild and fiery John the Baptist into a culture already moving to fa-la-la-las. 

We are more attuned to wish lists than longing. 

And yet, it is longing I feel most keenly in this season. I feel it in our beautifully crafted worship that has somehow given word and music to deep places of my soul. Come now, Prince of Peace, make us one body.*


In the American culture in which I live, we don't much allow ourselves to get to the place of longing. There's always something to fill that space - some TV show, some food, some un-winnable  internet argument to distract us. If you want something that you don't have there are no less than fourteen self help books designed to help you get that very thing. 

Except soul longing doesn't lend itself to smart goals and lists of tasks to do. Soul longing is both an ache and a hope. It is an ache for light in those 2 am dark places of fear or worry or shame. It is a hope for something to be different, in our world, in our nation, in our communities, in our families... in ourselves. 

The longing goes unspoken because it seems too impossible or too silly. Or it goes unspoken because we have no words. 

In Advent we gather to remember a people who longed for the justice-making presence of God among them, and we count ourselves among their number. In Advent we catch sight of fullness of joy that makes no sense in a broken world (then and now), and are left to wonder about a radical peace that does not merely still conflict but transforms creation itself.  

In Advent we step beyond the parties and the shopping and even the decorating that fills many of our lives in order to stop, to breathe into the places where our souls ache, squinting our eyes to better peer into the darkness for the Light that surely is coming.

Whatever your longing, deposit it on the doorstep of this Advent. Allow yourself the grace of longing, and the faith and the hope that God hears the words we cannot say. God gathers the dreams we're too scared or tired to dream, that God meets us right here where we live, and that the Light will shine in the darkness and we will be comforted. 

Come our hope. 

Come our Light.

Come our peace and our joy.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

* From Come Now, O Prince of Peace by Geonyong Lee




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