I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year.

Our Christmas season starts on the day after Thanksgiving, in the evening, when we kick off the season by watching Elf, my favorite Christmas movie. My family actually celebrates Thanksgiving on that day, Friday, because my mom is a nurse and she works on the actual holiday. So after we’ve eaten and since there’s no football to watch on Friday, we sit together and watch Elf and talk about Christmas shopping and what’s to come in the season.

Advent is the season that leads up to Christmas, and this year it starts on Sunday, November 27th. It’s all about anticipating Christmas and the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, God Incarnate.

I’m all about Advent and preparing my mind and heart for Christmas. It’s excitement-building and fun.     

But this year, I need something more than waiting for Christmas morning.

If that’s all I’m waiting for, then my hopes will be dashed once the presents are unwrapped and the Christmas meal is consumed. I’ll find myself with the same fears and anxieties as the days before, as in need of hope as I’ve been.

This year, I need something even more than waiting to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. I’m glad He came 2000 years ago and His life and death and resurrection is more than enough for me.

But this year, I need hope for today.

I need hope for the present.
I need hope for the future.
I need hope for the pains of this season.

Nativity scenes and “Silent Night” is not enough.

I need what Sarah Bessey describes of Advent. It’s the four weeks of waiting that are “two-fold: we're mirroring the ancient wait for the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem but we're also waiting with all of creation for the second coming of Jesus, the arrival that will wipe every tear from every eye and heal every brokenness and redeem all things. That's what Advent is to me; it's the uniting of my grief and my hope in the longing for Jesus.

I need what Melissa Camara Wilkins describes of Advent. It’s a season of waiting, but, “not like waiting in a waiting room. It’s not about waiting for your turn, and it’s not about waiting to see what the news will be. Advent is about waiting for good news for everyone. It’s not just waiting for the dark thing, the hard thing, the unpeaceful thing to end so that life can go back to normal. Advent is holding your breath in the quiet moment before, that one moment of anticipation. It’s waiting for the fireworks to begin. It’s waiting for the first note of the song. It’s waiting for a new leaf to turn over, for peace to break out, for joy to set up shop.”

I need this beautiful and terrible both/and. The waiting for what is here and has not yet come. The uniting of grief and hope.

I need the Hope, Love, Joy and Peace that comes supernaturally, not the ones that come dependent on my efforts. I’m done with any results that are based on my performance when they are supposed to be based on God’s provision.

I’m done trying to do God’s job.
Instead, I want my Advent season this year to be different.
I want it to be about expectation and peace in the midst of the grief and hope.
I want it to be about more than my feelings, more than my sadness, more than my worries.
I want to believe Melissa when she says that Advent is about waiting for joy to set up shop, knowing that while God has already won the war, there are still current battles being fought in and for our own lives.

I don’t want the tension, I don’t want the messiness, and I don’t want the complications of the both/and. And yet, I follow a God who was both God and man. He came to bring about a kingdom that is here and yet to come. And He invites me into a life of that tension, rejoicing in the salvation He has already brought, and waiting expectantly for the healing and rescuing that is yet to come.

This Advent season, I am thankful and challenged by the both/and of His great Gift.

What about you? What will you do with your Advent season? What are you waiting for? Is it both here and yet to come? How can you lead and share from that?

Blessings on you this season!

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