…to give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance… – Ecclesiastes 3
We have such grand expectations for Christmas. Besides the secular hoopla and pressure of gift finding, gift affording and gift giving – as believers we have spiritual expectations. Some of which we place on ourselves. After all, Christmas is a time when even the most ardent anti-God among us will grant space for a baby named Jesus in a children’s play. Family of all stripes will gather, even in a church service, because it will please Mom or Grandma or it’s a family tradition. It’s our chance to proclaim the “reason for the season” by our cheerful countenance and generosity.
I am grateful for the years when my emotions and plans fit nicely into the aforementioned packages. But this year…well, it’s just not our reality. I’m hearing it from lots of people. They are feeling badly that they can’t get in touch with the joy of which we sing. Peace is illusive. And hope? … well, hope for any kind of change is unlikely. Next week’s focus will be love and so far, we’re not feelin’ it.
We are sighing. There are a bunch of us just taking deep breaths and sighing. And I think what God is saying to that collective longing for something more is, “It’s okay.”
Advent is about longing. This morning it occurred to me that there were 400 years of silence between the promises of the Old Testament and the birth of Jesus. When Mary sang, she declared the Lord had done “just as he promised our ancestors.” This keeping of His promise is the lynchpin of our own personal enduring. Hope leads to peace, peace to joy and joy to love but not without the wanting of it all. Not without the longing.
It is not a renouncing of faith to not “feel it”.
I think it is rather a proclamation of faith that what we feel is longing. Longing for our fulfilled promises – longing for all those good emotions to overwhelm us like Mary. Longing for the hard things to be done and for all the darkness to be overcome by LIGHT.
And this too will come, because He will come, just like He did before – we have His promise.