Welcome to what is, in theory, one of my favorite times of year.
I really do love advent.
I love that it comes after a season of thanksgiving.
I love that it comes at a time when the physical world is still and our hearts are tuned toward gratitude and reflection.
My family lost a dear friend last week. Church had just ended and a friend was asking how I was when I got the news. A question I normally might have answered dismissively got a real genuine answer. I was sad, heartbroken for my brother, my sister, my parents all of whom knew this man well.
A few days later we gathered at my parents house for Thanksgiving. We sat around the table and ate good food and told stories and reviewed the year. It has been a hard year for many of us. But we were thankful we were together. Thankful for God's protection. Thankful for the memories of sweeter times. Thankful that we were all still here and all together.
There was laughter and tears and trips to Dunkin Donuts and introducing babies to aunts and uncles and cousins and watching the parade and eating my mom's cinnamon rolls and putting balm on the hurting places and welcoming the tears along with the smiles.
It was a reminder as we go into this season that for some, it won't be about artificial glitter and a stack of presents, but a time of loss and grief and pain. It was a reminder of how desperately we all need true Advent. How we all need Emanuel... how desperate we are all are for God With Us.
"Advent gives us another option beyond false Christmas cheer or Scrooge. Advent says the baby is coming, but he isn't here yet, that hope is on its way, but the yearning is still very real. Sometimes, depending on what we've lost this year, Advent it what saves us from giving up on Christmas and all its buoyant twinkling-light hope forever. Advent allows us to tell the truth about what we're grieving, without giving up on the gorgeous and extravagant promise of Christmas, the baby on his way."