Advent begins tomorrow.
Usually this weekend marks a transition to the bustle of holiday events -- school parties, work parties, family parties, neighborhood parties, concerts, dramatic productions, travel, shopping. For most of us, the 2020 advent season will be much lower key. Concerts are cancelled. Many stores are closed. Parties are limited or not allowed. Travel is complicated.
Perhaps this year, we will finally catch the spirit of Advent.
As one devotional resource puts it, "Advent is a season of expectant waiting, tapping into the sense we have that all is not well, the longing for the world to be made right again. It's a season for restless hearts and people weary of a broken world who want, with all our being, to know there's more than this." (Seeking God's Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year, 23)
If ever there was a time when we were collectively aware that all is not well, it's now. We long to break free from the dark clouds of the pandemic that shadow every empty square on the calendar.
This year I had the honor of contributing to an Advent devotional for Christianity Today, along with John Goldingay, Fleming Rutledge, Vincent Bacote, Ken Shigamatsu, Thabiti Anyabwile, Rich Villodas, Marlena Graves, and others. You can access it freely using the links below. Join us as we consider together the HOPE of Jesus' coming and of God's transformative power.
This year, more than ever, we know how much our world needs this.
If your year has been like mine, then you are acutely aware of your own need for transformation. The fallout of disrupted plans and routines this year has exposed places in our hearts where we have clung to the wrong things for security.
At minimum we are tasting the bitter tears of grief mixed with anticipation of Christmas. This year won't be the same. There are empty seats at the table, unfulfilled hopes, lonely hearts, and cancelled plans. May our disappointments turn our collective gaze to the author of hope. In him alone will we find strength for a new year that offers little certainty.
May the first coming of our king bolster our hope in his imminent return to make all things new!