Even at my "middle" age, there are age-old traditions that are new to me. God's people are still fascinating to me personally and to the little sociologist who lives inside me and takes notes on the many ways people do things.
This year, the age-old tradition that I have been introduced to is Advent. Yes, I have been going to church all of my life, but the Christian tradition I come from does not celebrate Holy days or seasons. I think the tagline is, "every day should be Holy". I had heard the word "advent" used for Advent calendars (which I saw sold at the dime store and in Avon catalogs and thought were merely a count-down to presents) and Seventh Day Adventists. It never occurred to me to look for more of an explanation for the word or event.
This year is different, though. I started blogging and in doing so, I made many bloggy friends who are opening my eyes to all kinds of new (to me) traditions and ways of thinking. Quite a few of these bloggy friends have been writing about Advent and how they are celebrating this year. I mentioned this to Hubby and he said that he really enjoyed celebrating Advent as a child. Why had he not mentioned this before? He had liked that Mama and I already had a set tradition for the Christmas season and he didn't want to horn in on that. With Mama gone now, he felt that he could say more about what he would really like to do for our Christmas season celebrations in the future. It makes me sad that he never said anything before, but I think he treasures the way he spent the past five Christmases with Mama.
I was mulling these things over when my new friend Charity announced that she had put together an Advent writing project/blog link-up so it would be easier for us to find each other's postings about the season.
I commented to Charity at the time her link-up started,
"Charity, I have never celebrated Advent. Not even with a candy-per-day Advent calendar. Yesterday we started getting out the boxes of Christmas decorations. Mine are mixed in with Mom's. I have to go through and find hers, photograph them, send photos to siblings, and figure out who gets what. My head is spinning so that I cannot think of starting a new tradition. I just want to get through this year and move on. I guess next year, Hubby and I can start some new traditions. Daddy says he won't be living here then, so it will be well and truly up to us. It will be nice to see how others are celebrating, though."
Charity, in her loving, wise way, replied,
"Carolyn -- It sounds to me like your waiting on Jesus plenty this year, maybe not with candles and song books, but with grief and hurt that you're waiting to be healed. No, no new traditions this year. Just lean in on Jesus in the ways you already know."
She cut right to the heart of the matter. I'm waiting on Jesus. I don't have colored candles or any fancy prayers to say, but I'm waiting on Jesus. I still did not think I had anything to say about it though. Until today.
Today, my bloggy friend Seth sent out his monthly letter asking everyone of his email subscribers to update each other on their lives. Of course, everyone started writing in with notes that included Christmas preparations. I wrote my reply, somewhat focused on the note from the person before me, but mostly thinking of the way my family seems to be falling apart and the way I seem to be falling apart in reaction to that.. I still did not immediately make the Advent connection. Here is what I wrote:
Waiting... I'm waiting... I'm waiting for things to change. Job was waiting. There are many different Bible translations for the words he said around "wait", but they all say Job was waiting. My favorite translations says, "All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes." (Job 14:14) I heard/saw a jiving men's choir sing about this and do a dance to it that made it so beautiful. The chorus said, "I've got a change comin'. Everything's gonna be alright. Everything's gonna be alright."
Longing...I'm longing...I'm longing for heaven. I'm longing to see Him coming for me. I'm longing for a sight of His face. Psalms says, "My soul faints with longing for your salvation..." (Psalm 119:81 first part of verse) I am longing to be made new when He comes again. I don't often hear people talk about this. Seems as if they think that wanting the Lord to come is the same as wanting to die. But I don't have a death-wish. I just know that what is to come is so much better than anything that currently IS.
Hoping... I'm hoping...I'm hoping because He promised my hope in Him would not be in vain. The second half of Psalm 119:81 says, "but I have put my hope in your word." I have hope in the Word (John1) that spoke me into being. While I am waiting and longing, I can put my hope in the Word.
It was when I reread my update that I finally understood that I had a little something to say about Advent. Just like Charity said, I get the point of waiting on Jesus. If His glorious Second Coming does not happen anytime soon, I might be able to find some more uplifting and cheerful ways of celebrating future Advent seasons. Until then, I'm waiting, longing, and hoping.
If you would like to read the many entries in the Advent Writing Project, you can head on over to Charity's place. There is some awesome prose and maybe even some poetry there.
As usual on Monday, I'm linking up with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood. Let's go over there and see what others have to say!