This time of year is supposed to be happy… We wait for the advent or coming arrival of something extremely important and yet it can often be dark, depressing and filled with despair. Advent is defined as a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season by Dictionary.com. And it is a time of preperation for the coming of Jesus into the world for Christians.
We often feel isolated and lonely in the midst of crowded malls and glittering decorations that seem to be disconnected from our experience. Holiday demands abound and if we’ve experienced a loss, whether a broken relationship, job layoff, family dysfunction, or death of a loved one, this year may be darker than previous ones. Often we are afraid to share our pain for fear it will somehow disturb the cheer of those around us. And in our darkness, we may walk around trying to protect ourselves and hide our hurts.
Advent for me is darker this year as I mourn the death of my Grandmother whom we buried Thanksgiving week. As December began as a dark and lonely time, it is easier waiting for Christmas because I’m not ready for it without Gram. It is not as hope filled and I wait for something to come along and rescue me from the darkness. As I wait in mourning trying to make sense of the grief and loss, I wait longing for something new to happen that will revive my soul and bring hope and peace.
In Isaiah 35, the prophet says our wilderness or dark places will flower and the voiceless will be filled with joyous song, the creator’s hand will be on display in awesome majestic music and color. He assures that week knees and hand wringing will stop. There is encouragement to share with others who live in fear or are uncertain that God is coming. God is on the way to bring you and me comfort and put all of the brokenness and chaos that are our lives fully in order.
Eyes filled with tears, red from lack of sleep, grief or stress will open. Our deafly “going through the motions” will end and we will be able to hear clearly again. Shuffling around in a lost stupor will stop and our thirst for good things and ability to taste will be restored. The cold sweats of loneliness will end and we will notice again the small little pleasant things in life that are all around us.
Isaiah speaks of the advent of a road trip on a Holy Highway. There is no road rage or rude drivers. The pavement is smooth and the luxurious lanes are abundantly provided for us. It is impossible to get lost on this road because all lanes along the way lead to the one we await. The road is safe and pristine with no carjackers, menacing deer or moose waiting to leap into traffic, or drunk drivers to worry about.
As we make our way home, joy fills our heavy hearts and when we arrive, we are given gifts of gladness that last forever as all sorrow, pain and sighs too deep for words fade away. Advent is a time of waiting and hoping in the darkness for Jesus. These weeks before Christmas offer an opportunity to remember what is important, to lift up the pain of darkness, and remember that there is hope in light. Individual advent’s may be longer than just the four weeks before Christmas, but Isaiah reminds that light will grow and that there is hope in Jesus.