Monday, December 15, 2008 / Comments (0) / by elizabeth

i wish i could take credit for this but i can't.

my friend ellie of merry everyday fame, as well as my partner in all things adventurous, wrote about advent on gloryology the other day, and it was so good i wanted to share.

(i apologize in advance if it makes you cry, because it makes me cry every time i read it!)

I’ve stopped several times over the past couple of weeks in an attempt to gather and form these thoughts into words. The season of Advent is unfamiliar territory to me (I admit I’m a tad ashamed). I remember lighting the candles each Sunday leading up to Christmas; I’ve heard the term Advent; but I can’t confirm that I’ve ever really grasped the larger concept or how it applies to daily living. So this Advent season I’ve been reading a book called Watch for the Light—I highly recommend it!

When I first started reading the book, I looked up the word advent and this is what my dashboard dictionary told me: advent, the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. (Now that sounds like something I want to celebrate—how royal and noteworthy, and to think its something I believe!)

That suffices as a functional summary—in the least a foundation on which God has gradually been building the concept of Advent for me. Here is where I’ve been:

1. We annually celebrate Advent as the season leading up to Christmas, the birth of Jesus, the arrival of our Saviour, the reminder that He will come again.

2. Advent is largely a season of waiting. A season leading up to the arrival of something or someone constitutes waiting and likely for an unknown time. Sometimes we know what we’re waiting for, sometimes we don’t though it does seem we’re always waiting for something. So Advent happens over and over again in our lifetime.

3. How we wait is important and fairly indicative of our faith (see Luke 1, Zechariah vs. Mary).

4. Jesus is coming continually into our hearts and lives. He came from the womb of Mary. He arrives in our hearts when we begin our personal relationship with God. He graciously reveals Himself daily if we are diligent to watch for Him and sometimes even when we’re not. And I believe He beckons us out of our commercial holiday, not to refuse the celebration, but to acknowledge His presence, to behold His power, to give thanks for His grace, to be mindful of Him, to have our priorities reorganized, to prepare our hearts to receive more, to give us a glimpse of what is to come, the list goes on.

5. We wait for Him still.

I will fail to capture in this small space my witness to His coming. But I’ll try. We began our season of waiting earlier this year. There were highs and lows, but by far we refused to make M.E. happen on our own accord. We waited for God to unveil His marked path and determined the course accordingly. Had I thought to watch earlier I would have taken better notes.

I’ve seen Jesus come…in the first excited donation we received months ago before a stocking was ever mentioned, in the lady who even in a struggling economy staring job loss in the face has purchased more stockings for us with the arrival of each paycheck, in the family praying diligently for our trip while wishing with broken hearts that their own Ethiopian baby was home with them, in the family who not only opened up their hearts and home to their own adopted children but send a family’s worth of stockings to those who remain in orphanages, in the ones who give though they live on their own raised support, in the loyal friends who have followed the blog and participated though we haven’t communicated in months, in the couple who gave big not knowing the need, in the one who turned that gift into four boxes of shoes and then some, in the tiny church community who so generously gave us a place to lay our heads in Africa, in the youth groups and family and corporations and non-profits, and in the ones who used their spare change to buy my junk. Oh, I’ve seen Jesus! And there are others to whom I’m grateful. There are people on this continent I’ve never met who are wearing a red wristband and praying. And I am truly awestruck that this is only the beginning. Because it is not about the gifts or the stuff or the money or the givers or the planners or the go-ers. This all simply rests on the arrival of Jesus, His faithfulness to show Himself to those who believe, and His love extended to us even when we don’t.

So more than I want to offer a meager thank you (and we do Thank You), I just want to encourage you to watch for the Light.

Also, another great blog post on advent:
"Recovering the spirit of Advent can take many forms, but at the core it simply means to make space to be vulnerable with yourself and those in your community about the things you long for which only God can do. And in that space, remember that Christmas is about the miraculous, the supernatural, the 'are you kidding me, this can't be true?,' about the incomprehensible God of Gods with skin, moving into the neighborhood."