Advent has always been something I’ve been aware of. Whether it was an advent wreath in the house, a Jesse tree, or just lighting them at church, it’s always been something I’ve known about, heard about, celebrated in some sense or another. One thing that I realized today, though, is that in the past, I’ve always thought about advent as a season of waiting. And it is, to some extent. It’s a season of waiting for Christ. But I think the way we wait can take very different forms, and that’s important to realize. As one member of my Sunday School class said today, waiting can be very aggravating. Kids probably don’t particularly enjoy the four weeks of waiting before Christmas. It’s a passive waiting, irritating because the thing that you want to come can’t just come now.
I think it makes so much more sense when the waiting of advent is focused on hope rather than the wait. Much of the time, it feels like the idea of hope can get lost in the season of waiting and bustling for Christmas. But the hope of advent extends far beyond just the four weeks before Christmas. The hope of advent reaches through eternity to the end of time with Christ’s return.
I’ve been blessed to find a church in the United States that is different than any church I’ve been to in this country. It’s a church that combines the focus on tradition that I found so valuable and vibrant during my time in Italy, but instills into is also a liveliness that is often lost when there is too much focus on tradition. Tradition has become meaningful and guiding, rather than something to be bogged down in. It adds to the rhythm of daily life instead of confines it. As a result, it seems that seasons like advent become that much more meaningful.