[The following reflection, written by our Theologian in Residence Edward Dunar, appears in the Fall 2015 Craigville Chronicle]
Nowadays, we begin to hear Christmas music on the radio shortly after Halloween. Traditionally, however, the “Christmas Season” didn’t begin until Christmas Day.
In the four weeks leading up to Christmas, many Christians observe Advent, a period of expectation. Advent is a time to look forward to the joys of Christmas, when God comes into the world through Jesus Christ, but also to come to terms with the reality that God’s work isn’t finished yet. There’s an ancient Christian saying that “God has saved us, is saving us, and will save us.” The best is yet to come.
Advent gives us the chance to come to terms with the fact that we spend much of our lives waiting. We often spend years waiting—for opportunities that fulfill our dreams, for reconciliation with friends and family from whom we have grown apart, for healing from sorrow or trauma, for signs of hope in the midst of social challenges like religious violence, racism, and environmental sickness. Advent reminds us that every day isn’t Christmas, that we often need to wait even as we continue working and striving. There is a sacred side to waiting. Jesus tells us to “be dressed for action and have your lamps lit” (Luke 12:35) even in the darkest hours of night. Although we wait, and although we often don’t know how long we will need to wait, we can be assured that God is with us. And our faith tells us that our waiting will not be in vain.