Scripture: Psalm 38:15; Psalm 62:5
Advent is coming. Advent is about waiting – with joyous expectation! – the arrival of Jesus into our world. It is about preparing his way by preparing our hearts. It is about a longing that we know ends in certainty. Advent is coming. Usually I wait almost trembling with joy and anticipation.
But I am tired of waiting. COVID has meant waiting – too much waiting.
So I remember Advents past. I remember the lighting of the Advent candles in our church – one more each Sunday as we got closer and closer to Christmas. The candles were lit by the children from the church, one more child added each week, each carrying a candle. Each Sunday we would sing a different verse of “O Come, O Come, Emanuel” and there were simple motions the children would do as the song was sung. The candles would be raised up high as we sang “Rejoice! Rejoice!” and lowered to light the candles of the advent wreath as we sang “Emmanuel shall come to thee.”
It was simple and beautiful and I loved it. It helped me wait with anticipation and longing for the celebration of the coming of Jesus into our world.
But this year – this year, when I have been mostly patiently waiting COVID out, waiting as I used to during Advent – with joy and anticipation - seems a bit much. I really miss my children and grandchildren, especially my three youngest grandchildren, who don’t do Facetime very well. I worry about the break in our relationship. I miss talking face-to-face with friends here in Albuquerque. And then of course there is the virus – an invisible, ever-lurking villain. Yes, it could be a lot worse for me personally. And I know it will get better, maybe by summer. But still – this waiting is not fun. So I was preparing my heart for a different kind of Advent – very low key – until I read, really read, all the verses to “Come O Come Emmanuel”. It was not written to the believers who had it all together – but to those who were in the middle of hardship and suffering! They were mourning and lonely and dying and depressed and in misery – and even so, Emmanuel was coming to them. He was coming to free, to cheer, to make safe and to save.
It is a song about God ‘s intervention into our world, even into our crazy COVID world. It reminded me that while Advent is made lovely and memorable by church traditions, for Advent to be truly meaningful this year means me re-opening my heart and my mind to his coming – to his coming to us all and to the hope that brings.
Prayer: Come, o come, Emmanuel! Save me – save us all – from our COVID weariness, our loneliness, our sadness and our boredom. Open my heart – open our hearts – and fill them again with the joy of waiting for your coming to us in the birth of Jesus and the hope that Jesus brings.
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to us!
-- Lyn Fitz