We are less than two weeks from Christmas. Came quickly, didn’t it? I just spent some money on gifts this weekend, so it’s getting more real. That’s sad to me, really. We start decorating, watching commercials, going to school performances, parties, gatherings, and, shopping even before Thanksgiving now. “Christmastime” has not only consumed Thanksgiving, it will consume Christmas if we let it.
This is why I have been more interested this year in the celebration of Advent. Some of you reading this know and celebrate Advent, but for us non-mainline Protestants we tend to be either completely oblivious or aware from a distance that others observe this “liturgical” thing before Christmas that involves candles and a wreath.
Some great pastors created something a few years ago called the Advent Conspiracy, encouraging families to reject consumer driven gift giving for more personal gifts, then giving the money to projects like water wells in impoverished countries. I love everything this movement stands for, but honestly still didn’t get the traditional understanding of Advent.
This year something changed as I began to hear about themes of expectation, hope, and longing for a coming king. Not excitement about a season, or eagerness to receive or give presents, or even noble things like family or serving, rather, Advent is reflecting on the reality that Jesus not only came but also is coming again. Until then we wait. Like the bridesmaids in Matthew 25, we know THAT He is coming – just not WHEN. The waiting can be hard – the night is long and the circumstances can be difficult. Yet, we wait eagerly, and not idly, as we learn from the bridesmaids who prepare for the groom.
For those who suffer, the waiting can feel more like the Hebrews oppressed in Egypt for 400 years, or the Israelites taken later into exile. This is the kind of expectation I have been feeling lately. This is what draws me to Advent. As one who suffers, perhaps, but more so as one who suffers with….
I work with the girls program of Wellspring Living as a teacher. It has never been easy, but these last few months have been especially hard. All of the struggle, strife, heartache, uncertainty, fight, fear, depression, regret, rage and illness I saw the first 18 months working with these girls seems to have manifest itself with more intensity and frequency in these last 6 weeks or so. To be honest, it has shaken some of us. It is a privilege to work with this population – to see the work God can do in broken lives and families. But it is not easy. Some days we just don’t know what’s next. I sense some of the girls looking at me and thinking, “You can’t help me… none of you jokers here can.” I know they are right. But I hope. I wait in lament and expectation for a Savior to come in quiet power to set them free. Let’s hope together.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
– Romans 8:18-21
This a guest post from:
Victory Program Teacher