“I had completely missed somehow the idea of Advent being a matter of waiting for the second coming and not just pretending or imagining what it would be like to wait for the first coming of Christ”, Jonathan Rogers explains in his conversation with Tsh Oxenreider. Well you and me both, Jonathan.
My recent discovery of Advent (and we’re talking this week here) has made me want to slow down, make room and be intentional about waiting for Jesus.
So, what is Advent?
“Advent … ushers in four weeks of holy longing for Christ’s coming into our dark and broken world to make all things new. With the Old Testament saints and the early Christians alike, we cry, “Come, Lord!” The anticipation that marks the season is both joyful and aching, as on the one hand, we have a sure hope that the Lord is coming, and that’s cause for celebration, but on the other hand, well, we’re tired and weak, and sometimes hope hurts.”
I found this description of Advent to be very helpful as it’s not something I’ve ever been very aware of, what with the grumbling about the commercialisation of Christmas, the frantic and late attempts to find presents on an always tight budget, and an almost total lack of familiarity with the church calendar.
This excerpt comes from an article in Art & Theology by Victoria Emily Jones in which she discusses some of the themes of Advent, accompanying Bible passages and lyrics from featured songs. She provides two playlists of songs marked by anticipation and a longing for Christ’s coming – the first is 10 hours long, the two hour long version features only highlights.
Art & Theology have a series of short daily reflections on art and music and the Bible truths behind them which, as I have dipped in and out, have had more of an impact on me than I expected.
In previous years when I have attempted to focus on the biblical journey to Christ’s birth I have been quickly disrailed by coming late to a month long devotional starting deep in the Old Testament and then feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number and length of readings prescribed per day. So this year I am trying a different approach.
The Advent devotional I am following is still 28 days’ long but the reflections, videos and readings are shorter and more manageable and I find the BibleProject devotionals are accessible and interesting.
After even just a few days marinating in music marked by hope-filled anticipation, and reflecting on visual art that brings new angles and perspectives to my thinking, I have found that I have been approaching over-familiar and unfamiliar Bible passages with a deeper desire to engage with the text and to allow it to carry me to Christ.
I’m not a big homemaker or a craftastic supermum but I do want to make this season special for our family and provide visual reminders in our home that point us to Jesus. As a third culture family with a small child and a small budget our approach will be perhaps be very different to other families, but I’ll be writing about that here.
What a privilege we have as Christians this Advent. We can look around us and look back on a year that has been filled with challenges of different kinds, loss and heartbreak and yet, as Tsh Oxenreider reminds us, “we’re invited to participate in that waiting and in that recognition that this is not all there is.”
And I thought it fitting to close with this excerpt from her book, Shadow and Light: A Journey Into Advent – “Advent acknowledges shadows and dims them with burgeoning light. So we wait in expectation for the full, radiant, overwhelming light to one day wipe out all darkness forever. This is the hope of Advent.”
Are you choosing to celebrate the ache and the anticipation of Advent this year? Is there anything that especially helps you fix your eyes on Jesus at this time?