It is now Advent, that time when we prepare and wait in expectant hope for Christmas.
I feel pensive about this season. On the one hand, I love it: the candles being lit one by one, slowly bringing light to the darkness, the traditions that have come to be a part of it, the growing excitement for the arrival of Jesus. On the other, I have a deep sense of unresolved longing: for hope to manifest itself in the total healing of people, for justice to roll, for the kingdom to get here fully and completely.
Oftentimes when I am full of all kinds of feelings, I turn to music. Yesterday I listened to this song, on repeat:
Blessed are the ones who do not bury
All the broken pieces of their heart
Blessed are the tears of all the weary
Pouring like a sky of falling stars
Blessed are the wounded ones in mourning
Brave enough to show the Lord their scars
Blessed are the hurts that are not hidden
Open to the healing touch of God
The Kingdom is yours; the Kingdom is yours
Hold on a little more, this is not the end
Hope is in the Lord, keep your eyes on Him
Blessed are the ones who walk in kindness
Even in the face of great abuse
Blessed are the deeds that go unnoticed
Serving with unguarded gratitude
Blessed are the ones who fight for justice
Longing for the coming day of peace
Blessed is the soul that thirsts for righteousness
Welcoming the last, the lost, the least
Blessed are the ones who suffer violence
And still have strength to love their enemies
Blessed is the faith of those who persevere
Though they fall, they’ll never know defeat
Common Hymnal, Wilson, Spencer, Massey, Keyes
I find the idea that we are blessed when we are suffering a relief, and I also wonder, what does it mean? How does it even make sense? Years ago, I did a word study on the word ‘blessed’. I discovered that its root means to consecrate and speak well of, most often used toward God. To bless something means to view it as holy and sacred. Viewed through this lens, I believe that God consecrates our grief and poverty. God holds up and makes blessed those who are broken, revealing them as precious and having connection to Him. Similarly, when we seek peace, when we show mercy, when we mourn and when we are meek, God is connected to us. There is not an absence of God in life’s greatest challenges.
I find comfort in this, especially right now, when so many things seem to be on fire. This year has stripped many things bare. We have all, in one way or another, experienced loss. For many in my own circle, the loss has inflated poverty and marginalization. Somehow in all of this, I have also noticed a surge of resiliency, a desire to create change, and increased resourcefulness. To quote CS Lewis, I do believe that “Aslan is on the move”.
Instead of straining ahead to Christmas, I do want to sit in Advent and look for the ways light is creeping into the picture, and for the ways it is already here. I pray for a hope that might persevere and be rooted in trust, a hope that sings, “hold on a little more, this is not the end”.