I can’t believe it is already the first week of December. That means it is the first week of Advent! It feels like an eternity ago and like it was just yesterday that we were celebrating Advent last year. Maybe that is partly because Advent was one of the last big church seasons where we were worshiping in person. Whatever the reason time just has a way of always feeling fast and slow, all at the same time. I feel like I am a mix of “We made it! 2020 is nearly over!” and “How did we get here already? Where did this year go?”
We enter the Advent season with COVID cases being on the rise across the country. With the country and our state setting new case and death numbers almost every day and at an alarming rate. We enter Advent in the midst of a global pandemic that has hopefully made us realize how interconnected we all are as a planet. We enter Advent the season of waiting and watching, waiting for approval of a vaccine, watching how people continue to break basic health guidelines. We enter into Advent the season of anticipation and hope, anticipating when we will be able to safely gather, hoping people will take this more seriously so we can get .
Hope has been a hard thing throughout this rollercoaster of a year that 2020 has been. But the thing about hope is that it stems from a longing for things to be different, for things to be better. Hope acknowledges that the world is full of brokenness and pain, and that things are not as they should be. In the season of Advent, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, of Emmanuel, God with us. We celebrate the hope that was brought as God came among us as a baby, entering into the brokenness and pain of the world. The hope brought through Gods love for us.
This year those places of brokenness and pain have been on the forefront for many of us. Seeing the division across our country from politics to mask debates. Seeing the disparity as the pandemic has affected jobs and incomes of those who were already struggling to make ends meet. Seeing the injustice of our siblings of color continually being treated like their lives do not matter. Seeing how many people seem to care more about themselves than about protecting others. Seeing the pain of those who grieve yet can’t be with their loved ones. In all of this and all the other places of pain and brokenness in our world, hope shows up as a healing balm to say, things don’t have to remain this way. We name our weariness, we name our longings, and hope says that there can be healing and wholeness in the midst of brokenness and pain. Advent hope, the hope of Emmanuel, God with us, is a hope that calls us back into community, that calls us back to loving our neighbor, that call us back toward the way things should be.
In this Advent season may we find hope in naming that things are not as they should be, and that God came to be with us in and through this. The world is not as it should be, but we can have hope. Hope that things can be different, knowing that in the places of brokenness and pain, God shows up bringing love and grace.