Christmas has come and gone and yet, I continue to live in Advent. Advent is a season of waiting expectantly for what God is going to do; waiting for His promise to be fulfilled, for His provision and His redemption. Advent is a season of waiting on your toes for what God is going to do, knowing that He will answer.
I entered this advent season six months ago, well before Christmas was a thought in many people’s minds. Before Christmas tree and holiday greetings, before mistletoe or gingerbread houses. And honestly, I thought this season would have ended by now.
Each passing holiday was met with increasing unease because, you see, when I entered this season I had a picture of what it would look like. Much like, I think, we often have a picture of what Advent, the Christmas season, will look like. The perfect tree that makes everyone jealous. The right amount of decorations, not too many but not too little, In just the right places. And, of course, presents bought and wrapped by December 1st with THE gift that is sure to bring joy to each of their heart. We have expectations.
I had expectations. I expected that as I said yes to God that His plan would become clear. That as I stepped down and stepped out from what I had been doing that a clear sign would appear to show me what was next. This didn’t happen.
Can I tell you the truth about living in advent? Living in advent is hard. The truth is that it is almost always messy and it is almost never what you expect. When we look at the Christmas story it is so easy to get wrapped up in the shiny and warm side of the story. The miraculous side. The Word became flesh, salvation had come. The angel appeared and the virgin gave birth.
I think though that the true beauty comes when we look at the mess, because living a life in advent is messy.
A virgin gives birth to a child. What we often forget that in Mary saying yes to God she was also saying yes to social suicide, if not death. She was saying yes to being seen as a harlot when the truth was far from. The truth… well it was messy. The Word became flesh, the Messiah had come. What we often forget is that the Word became flesh in the helpless form of a child. This child was to be nursed and cared for, dirty diapers and all. What we often forget is the cold of the winter and the smell of the animals on that first Christmas night. The truth…. well it was messy.
Advent is messy. It is about waiting expectantly for salvation. It is about Jesus’ first coming and the one that is yet to come. It is about now and not yet, today and tomorrow. Advent is about waiting expectantly for the answers of God but also seeing His answers today. It is about expecting Him to answer but letting go of all expectations.
I had thought that if everything was in order and if I had all of the answers, then my life could be beautiful. I have found that there is beauty in the mess. Living in advent is a place where mess is beautiful, where Jesus answers and we continue to wait for His answers. But more than all that, living in advent is peace.