Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Advent

It's Sunday morning again, and I'm again laying in a darkened room, pondering.

It's the beginning of Advent today.  A new church year.  Just another season of waiting and longing.

And honestly, as I was laying here, I was pondering if I would even choose to acknowledge that this year.

This whole year has been full of drama, of feeling ripped apart, of waiting and longing.

I'm pretty tired of the longing.

Ironic for me to say that, given that just recently I wrote here about the fact that I feel like God has been challenging me to really long for things, to really dream and long for those dreams to be fulfilled.

And so I was laying here, pondering if this year I would "celebrate" (what a ridiculous word for recognizing this season) Advent.  I feel guilty for wanting to ignore it, for ignoring that part of my heart that just naturally tunes itself to the church year.  But honestly, I don't know that I'm up for that this year - for the aching that comes in these four weeks, waiting again for the coming of a Savior.

So I thought about how I could do it differently.  Could I skip the candles?  Is there a way to make this less of an achingly painful journey of waiting and more of a joyful expectation?  Could I just ignore it all together and show up on Christmas Day, and welcome a Savior?

Out of curiosity I clicked through here, to a site I bookmarked in one of the last several years, to see what candle is the first for Advent.

And the part of me that has fallen in love with a God who has a very ironic sense of humor in our conversations started laughing.


The candle for today is Hope.

Hope followed by love, joy and peace.

Those don't so much sound like achingly painful concepts.  Maybe the opposite, actually.

And here's the thing - I'm on this journey of recognizing some twisted concepts in how I relate to God.  Like, for example, the idea that the only true moments of encounter with God are intense, scary, and painful.  The Advent season, for example, perhaps doesn't have to be marked solely by pain.

And that, that is a thought I needed to have whispered to me this year.

I don't know yet how I'll mark this Advent season.  For the last year, the Christ candle from my previous wreath has sat on my dresser, waiting, only being lit occasionally through the months. 

Tonight, though, if only for one week, I'll probably light a candle.  The space I live in could use the light of hope today.

And I'm pondering this.  Having a "Jesse Tree" this year.  (Though in my odd living reality, it will probably be not so much a tree as a string, hung across my map of the world and wall of happy memories.)

And who knows?  Maybe an Advent wreath will make an appearance.  Because hope, love, joy and peace are concepts I'm wanting a little more of in my life these days.  Because God is a God of those things, and meeting Him can be filled with those, instead of with fear, intensity, and pained exhaustion.

So, Come Lord Jesus.  Come and bring hope this day.