The house is decorated for Christmas. Colored lights twinkle in the living room. Greenery is hung over the door frames. The nativity scenes are standing watch. The candles are ready. Advent starts in the morning!
Advent is dear to me. I love this holiday. I enjoy the food & sweets. I love buying gifts and thinking about parties and my family coming home. But, above the holiday festivities, I love Advent. It anchors me in this consumer culture. It keeps my heart soft – waiting for my Savior to arrive. It keeps my mind pliable to consider that maybe Jesus will show up in a way that I’m not expecting.
My boys asked about Advent yesterday and got an impromptu sermon in the living room! Why do I think the church needs to celebrate advent? Because it is the one time of year when we sit in the 400 years of silence. The time between the promise and it’s fulfillment. Those hard, dark in-between spaces of waiting and wondering and hoping. The moment before the angels break open Heaven with singing and news.
Advent is that in-between. The not-yet. The still-believing. The holding onto hope. The breathing in and out of faith. The moments we don’t speak about in church or ladies Bible studies. The moments when it seems darkness will overcome the light. The long period of waiting where it seems that God has forgotten or turned his back.
This morning I read an excerpt from Tim Keller’s new book, The Songs of Jesus – a daily devotional in the Psalms. (By the way, everyone in my house is getting a copy of this for Christmas! ) Today’s Psalm meditation was in Psalm 126. Let me give you my thoughts, prompted by his writing and these ancient words:
The Psalm starts out with the exiles rejoicing They have been restored and are full of laughter, joy and praise. We all love living in these three verses. When you feel the blessing of God’s provision and your heart bursts in praise. If only the Psalm would stop at verse three! But verse four pulls us back into them calling out to BE restored. That part that isn’t restored YET. That advent part of waiting for restoration.
The psalmist uses two metaphors for bringing water back into a dry, desert place.
- The first is the gushing streams sent by the Lord that flood & fill the dry land with water. Bring on the gushing streams, O Lord!
- The second metaphor is a lone farmer planting seeds by hand. These seeds aren’t watered by the gushing streams of miracle water. Nope, they’re watered by the tears of the farmer. Little salty drops of tear-water. The lone farmer doesn’t see the quick results of gushing streams. But the Scripture says that he does get a harvest – and sings with the harvest of his little seeds.
As you enter this season of Advent, you may be living in both parts of Psalm 126. Hearts overflowing with God’s provision and goodness – but still crying out for restoration in dry parts of your life. Take heart! There may be a flood coming your way. If so, rejoice! There may be a slow, seed planting that is watered by your tears and prayers. If so, stay in the field. Persevere. Plant & water. Because even the lone farmer sees his harvest and breaks into song.
Let’s not hurry our lives through Advent. Let’s sit with the in-between and not-yets in our lives. Let’s praise for the goodness flooding us and plant seeds in the barren spots. Let the season of Advent meet your heart this year as encouragement, comfort and joy.