Advent: the time Christians set aside for spiritual preparation for the birth of Christ. It’s a strange time. Amidst dressed up storefronts and winter wonderlands, we find ourselves living in a reality filled with poverty, war, destruction, racism. Though this season leading up to Christmas is characterized by waiting expectantly for the hope that arrives in the form of a baby born in a manger, what if we saw it as a time to engage? As we wait for hope, are there ways we can also be hope in our communities?
For many years I’ve been a firm believer that the sooner the Christmas decorations go up, the less special the Christmas holiday feels and becomes. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and all the arbitrary yet “seasonally appropriate” colors, flavors, smells, and traditions. But I prefer to savor each ‘holiday season’ rather than giving in to the hyper-capitalism that encourages us to rush through each one to make it to Christmas.
For many, Christmas will come as a welcome relief from the social, political and environmental challenges that have occurred this year. For others, the holiday season itself brings fear and discomfort. In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Frodo experiences similar anxiety when facing the uncertainty that lies ahead in life. His success story is a little reminder of hope in this Advent season.
Advent is the season of the Christian Year that is typically observed as a time of reflection and waiting with anticipation for the coming of the birth of Jesus that is celebrated at Christmas. It is a longing filled with hope in the potential joy found in the baby savior, Jesus.