How to Find an Advent Perspective
The season of Advent has always been something I love. As I prepare my heart, mind, and home for ‘the coming,’ the expectant waiting is a reminder of the past promised birth and the future return of the Messiah. This keeps me grounded in the knowledge that this world is not my home and that there is hope, joy, and peace available for all people.
It also reminds me that each person I encounter is a beloved child of God, someone designed for relationship, especially with the Creator. Advent highlights this relational design as it brings a sense of anticipation, a looking forward—that practice of ‘looking up.’ The season of Advent is the opportunity to do just that.
The Truth about Me and Advent
There have been years where Christmas came and went, where Advent was a word written on a darling calendar on the refrigerator. There were seasons when I never looked up, never thought up, or never gazed into light. Those years often drug me into the hibernation season of January through March with a sense of being overwhelmed.
In those times, my neglect to look up during Advent would allow the past year of busyness and disconnect to evoke a visceral reaction to Christmas music. Even the mere mention that Christmas was 4 weeks away would spike anxious feelings in my stomach. Ironically, that same Christmas music in other years when I do look up heralds a desire to bake cookies, to sing, and to stop and notice the lights.
When I don’t Want to Bake
This is a clear sign that something is wrong, that I am in frantic-mode and missing my life as it whizzes by. Often, I barrel through without noticing the angst building, which results in a snowball of consequences for me and for others who share the same spaces of life. For example, I may give short answers to questions that need thoughtful conversation or dismiss something important to someone else but unimportant to me.
Frequently, I enter check-list mode and fill the calendar with things that we ‘always’ do instead of being intentional about doing things appropriate to our current situation. Or, I may skip entirely over the season’s rich opportunities. There is no looking up, no stillness, no anticipation, only a building sense of dread, or worse, nothingness, just a ‘get ‘er done’ mentality.
Sound horrible? Yes, but that is not the end of the story.
Those seasons when I have allowed my life to become horizontally focused, overwhelmed, and void of room for Advent, seem to spark seasons of spiritual growth in the aftermath. Part of the reason for this is that I realize that although I never want to miss Advent, I chose to miss it because of the choices I made about how to spend my time. The years that had ‘Advent holes’ in them represent dark nights of my soul—life was hard and I couldn’t figure out why.
I also remember years when the Church calendar carried me from the quiet months of snow to the budding of the hydrangeas before a glorious Easter morning, to the fiery time of Pentecost and on through to the feasts. These were years when Advent was alive, vibrant, and meaningful. Those are the years that mark my joy.
Wouldn’t it be nice if I always chose the latter? But I know myself well enough to know that without the years of dark disconnect, I would never appreciate the thrill of the years when awe fills me with the expectation of something beautiful and complete.
And here’s the thing. God knows my humanness. He knew that I would need the valleys of Good Friday experiences to prepare me for the joy of Advent. He knew that I could not sustain or appreciate the years of childlike wonder in looking up if I didn’t get caught in the brokenness of my choices and need for a Savior.
So, I am preparing myself for the season of Advent now. I am working on the discovery of stillness. Doing this means intentionally carving out time to just be with and not have a schedule for God. I need this time to notice what it means to have a Savior, a promised hope, a baby who came to die for me.
Maybe it’s my age or my years of overdoing, people-pleasing, running through lists, and missing moments that makes me not want to waste these opportunities to ‘look up’ again. Or maybe I have laid down my striving at the foot of the throne to allow God to create in me the self-awareness of my tendency toward busyness.
This year, I am ‘looking up’ during Advent. This year, I want to bake and to sing Christmas songs. I expect God to be big, so I’m preparing myself for a year of pursuing joy in spite of the circumstance. I am looking forward and with the help of my heavenly Father, I am doing so with anticipation.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.