When advent feels empty

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There’s a lot of waiting in the story. Zechariah waits nine months in silence for his son, that surprise gift at hope’s end after a married eternity of monthly disappointment. Mary waits, nine months of questions and surrender, of morning sickness and neighborhood gossip and back pain. Simeon and Anna have shaped their whole long lives around waiting for the one they finally hold in their arms.

I remember last year, how I found myself crying three weeks into advent because I thought I had missed it. All I was feeling was emptiness. I remember too the joy of her assurance that I hadn’t missed it at all – that the waiting and longing, the answering “yes” in the not-yet-seeing, the deep knowing of our need for God-with-us is what advent is all about.

Advent is practice for the rest of life, a learning to pay attention, to live with the discomfort of trusting a promise that is becoming but not yet whole, begun but not fully seen.

This waiting season is the echo of creation, the Spirit hovering over chaotic, formless emptiness.

It’s the continuation of the incarnation, the Spirit entering the dark crampedness of Mary’s womb.

It’s the fulfillment of the resurrection, the Spirit breathing new life in the stale air of death’s tomb.

He hovers still, but now over us, enters still, but now into us – again and again and again, shaping, breathing, touching emptiness and chaos into God-shaped life.

2 thoughts on “When advent feels empty

  1. Lilac says:

    So true… advent helps us to learn to live joyfully with the fact that it is not yet time for our expectations to be fully met, while we celebrate the in-breaking of the Kingdom, and dream about the time when every expectation will be fully met in ways that we cannot even imagine! For me right now it is also a time of intense and seemingly never-ending work and preparation… but He is freeing me up from self-pity and fatigue by reminding me that the waiting required by advent isn’t necessarily passive. Sometimes He calls us to work with joy as part of the waiting!

    • Wise words, Lilac. Thank you. Interesting you should use the word “self-pity.” God was uncovering that in me this morning, and calling me into a different place marked by a willing “yes” and a choice to receive his gracious presence wherever it is offered – including in the midst of the work. (I don’t always find it easy to say yes to that call!)

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