It happens about this time every year. This subtle shift of heart, the deep sense of something amiss. Or missing. I am not sure what happens but only have observed this movement within me, this deeper yearning as the long nights of Autumn come round serving up falling leaves, chilly days and blazing colors in the trees. My heart aches for something not quite. My soul grows restless. The past year looms like a long shadow over the sidewalks, but my gaze is facing the not yet. What is this slow parade of longing that marches before me? I stand silently watching, waiting, wondering. Like a deer, standing still, at the edge of a moment, unsure what to do next. Within me a storm is brewing. A culmination of the past year’s happenings tumble around in my mind. I ponder all of it, seeking discernment to gather the good and hang on to it. But life doesn’t just offer us good, does it? And we can’t really say we accept good while rejecting the not-so-good…especially if we have no idea what could be good ultimately in the grand scheme of things. At least in God’s incomprehensible perspective. Yet, here I am standing watching the parade of 2021, pondering the good, not-so-good, the heartbreakingly bad and the meaning of any of it. The parade of memories, of people, places, things, all marching by, and me asking questions of a God who sits unsurprised, in Heaven. Yet, also with me.
I’ll tell you what happens this time of year in me, and maybe you might find something stirred up within you. It’s the turning again to the things of old. To things I can’t see or comprehend but I know exist. To incomprehensible glory, and unfathomable grace. To the slow parade of time, and a church that stands forever at the center of everything. And to the God, who I can barely know even in my exhaustive efforts to know Him better, to trust Him more, to somehow, take hold of the hem of His garment that surely holds eternity’s answer and every breath every breathed.
This is, the beginning of the end of another year. The slow beating drum of sunset as we prepare for a new year…for me, it begins with the season of Thanksgiving, quiet reflective days and a turning toward home. I don’t know when exactly I began thinking of Thanksgiving (a day) as a month long season, but seasons offer us much in learning how to approach our own seasons of life, even our days. Imagine, if you will, living four seasons in one day. What would it reveal about choices we make, or could make? What could we take from the seasons into our days, weeks, months as we plan and partner with the Lord on our journey?
The journey of one year transitioning to another is one of deep reflection, sincere gratitude, and great expectation. For me, it begins with Thanksgiving, and moves steadily toward the need for newness. Not the kind of newness one musters up along with champagne and confetti, but more the kind of new that brings perspective, refreshment, hope.
I know some who consider themselves strong in their faith, but see no need or benefit in the season of Advent. I repectfully hold to the journey of Advent and journeying with those who have gone before on this journey, and believe it has the power to restore us to our first love, our good sense, and everlasting hope.
If the year has left you weary, come.
If the months have sapped your joy, come.
If the days have robbed your hope, come.
There is a baby coming. And He will make all things new. Again and again, even until the end of time. Don’t despair. Instead, turn your eyes back to the beginning. Remember Him. In our sadness, in our loss, in our deepest longing, He is longing for us too. Discover the journey anew. Let yourself rediscover the faith of your childhood, or the faith you never had but always longed for. Journey with Jesus through Advent…and see where it leads. Let Him do new things in your life. Let Him surprise you.
I need Advent more than ever this year…I need to readjust my eyes to the One who came, and will come again. Who lives, loves and never leaves us.
Today, I pray, Maranatha! Come!