Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is my favorite season in the church year. Advent offers us the opportunity to pause, to turn inward, to make space is our busy lives and hearts for the coming of Emmanuel, God with us. Advent is both sacred and somber, full of both hope and longing. Advent has something to teach us about expectation and promise. It makes a way, if we are willing, for us to connect more deeply and profoundly with the God who became flesh and dwelt among us. It offers us a glimpse into the millions of ways, big and small, that he is still making his presence known in our world today, showing up to remind us that love wins in the end.
This year the hustle and bustle of Christmas feel overwhelming to me. Shopping for gifts and hanging lights seems more like a burden, and I feel my soul longing for Advent. I feel myself longing for rest and connectedness and belonging more than cookies and ornaments and holiday cheer. I find myself needing to sit quietly in the presence of the one who came to be with me, the one who offers hope and peace and joy and love to a broken world. I feel myself longing for Jesus.
I don’t know what you’re longing for this year, but if you’re paying any attention at all to this messy, broken world then I know you’re longing for something. And that’s the promise of Advent. God’s gift to us in this season is hope. Hope that he hears our prayers and longings and hope that he is a God who keeps his promises. Hope that he has not abandoned us, hope that he is still here right where he always said he would be—with us.
So don’t miss it, friends. Don’t skip straight to Christmas and miss Advent. It is too holy, too precious, too worthy to be forgotten. Accept the invitation to pause, to take the time to prepare your hearts for Jesus. It will make all the difference.