Advent is for those who know and understand longing.
Which means, it is for all of us.
All of us long for something, even if we cannot put into words that which we long for. Or, maybe we do know what we long for…Peace. Healing. Comfort. For a prodigal child to return home. For an impossible situation to be resolved. Rest for the weary. Hope for the hopeless. We long for so much.
We long for home.
And that longing for home is embodied in the sense of anticipation we celebrate during the Advent season. We look towards the birth of Christ–that which has occurred already and which we celebrate anew in its arrival every year. But we cannot look towards His birth without also looking towards His death and resurrection–that which has occurred already and that which we long for in His return. Someday.
We long for His return when we long for all the things mentioned above–peace, healing, comfort–the list is long. We may not know that is what we long for, but it is.
It is. And we wait: eagerly and impatiently, quietly and noisily, in anticipating and in desperation.
And so, it is fitting that we celebrate Advent from today through the next four weeks, eventually resulting in joyful celebration of that longing for a Messiah–a Savior–on Christmas day. It is not to be hurried. It is not to be rushed through. It is a season of anticipation–and, there is much to be learned in the anticipating. In the waiting.
Oh, I am like you. I don’t like to wait. I am impatient in my longing. In my waiting. I want peace–now. I want healing–now. I want comfort–now. And so many other things. So many other things. I wonder if that is why the verses in Isaiah 64 are included in a list of scriptures that are sometimes used for this first Sunday of Advent? I’m sure it is not, but still–I can’t think of any more appropriate words than these:
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
Do you hear the longing in these words? The desire to see God rend the heavens? The desire to see God?
That, my friends, is anticipation. That, my friends, is longing.
Oh, that we would know that kind of longing. But we do–we do know it! We know it each and every time our heart breaks over suffering in this fallen world! We know it each and every time our heart breaks over the sin we so easily fall to! We know it with each and every anxious prayer we utter–for our children, for our families, for our friends, and for our own souls! We know it each and every time we celebrate the Savior’s birth!
And, we know it each and every Resurrection Sunday–for all Sunday’s celebrate the resurrection of our Christ and point to His return.
Therefore, let us long with hope. Let us share that hope with the others. And let us take heed to the words in Mark 13:35-37–which are also common verses read on this first Sunday of Advent:
Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
Oh, how I long.