If you had the time, or inclination, you could read back over the 12 or so years this blog has been in existence on the internet and see that one of the reoccurring themes is my obsession with Advent and all things Christmas. I am one of those annoying people who likes to embrace all things to do with this season of joy and light in the dark.
It’s in that need for light in the dark that lies the reason I fully launch into this time with arms wide open. I need the light in the dark, I need Immanuel, God with us in the mess of our chaotic painful lives down here. I need to know Someone cares and Someone stepped in, moved in, made his home amongst us.
I also grab Advent firmly because I know my greedy heart which just wants stuff at Christmas, more food, more things, more shiny. I want to embrace the lie that new pyjamas with Christmas elves on them will make us all happier. I want to grab for me and not give to those around. Therefore I dig in deep to swing my pendulum the other way, to seek generosity, to seek the real point of all this feasting in the dark. I want to push myself into joy and wonder. My natural tendency to melancholic musing needs to be rooted in the ache of waiting for Jesus and moved towards the wonder of Jesus here right now.
This year a conversation with a good friend has been burning in my mind more and more. We talked of needing Advent, not for the culmination of Christmas Day, which is just another day and can only let us down. We need Advent to prepare us for another year of walking with Jesus through the mess of life. We need Advent, the ache for more, the waiting and wonder, the light in the dark, for the times beyond Christmas Day. This thought is really helping me not just build us up to one day of our lives but see that digging deep into Advent is what my soul needs in order to enter another year of life down here.
Christmas Day will be full of presents and fun and family times but it is not the culmination of my Advent musings. I long for my Advent joy to burn deep so we can enter another year confident that God is real, is present and is coming back. Because of that we can keep walking on through the mists and murk, enjoying the vast horizon views, weathering the storms and any other kind of outside world metaphor you care to insert here.
Last year I sought to note the things of wonder that I encountered each day and I think I’m going to carry on that tradition (tradition’s can refer to things that happen at least twice, right?) this year. It is helpful for my soul to seek the wonder each day and to be drawn towards the joy of a God who holds us tight throughout our lives. I’ll be drawing that wonder from the stuff of life, the details of our beautiful world, the wisdom of those who have walked this path before and the old old story which I cannot escape, which produces real hope in this life and for the next.
Come along with me, tell me your stories of wonder in the dark and we’ll fill our hearts full of nourishing treasure to step forward with into the new year together.