Who Advent is For
Beloved in Christ,
The prophet Isaiah announces Advent’s arrival this Sunday by howling at God: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down. . .” (64:1). It’s a passionate cry for God to act with love and justice in a world so obviously lacking in both.
The weighty cultural expectation for gladness and joy in these weeks can make us feel the pain and loss we carry more sharply. Advent invites us to savor something much richer and more nourishing than a superficial happiness: hope. Rather than an elusive feeling that depends on the absence of suffering, hope looks, with Jesus, at the very worst the world can be, and confesses that God’s love is stronger, that God alone has the power to right the wrongs, level the injustices, redeem the profound ways in which the world is broken. Advent is not about scrambling to get ready for Christmas, it’s about setting aside our anxious striving, and stopping to wait for God’s redemption.
Advent is for those who know pain. Advent is for those who are oppressed. Advent is for those waiting for water in the desert. Advent is for those crying out in the wilderness. Advent is for those who wonder if there is a God at all.
For us, the people who wait for God’s promise, the people who confess Jesus as the perfect incarnation of God’s heart, who believe in the power of love, the people who know that God is faithful, these weeks of busy festivity are not anesthesia; they are not about pushing all that is wrong in our lives and the world to the edges. These weeks are about joining our hearts in solidarity with all who suffer, crying out together, confident that the God of love is faithful and God’s love alone will turn our wailing into dancing, our wretched mourning into songs of joyful alleluia. Watch for it. Wait for it. And keep awake.
Grace and peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya