Advent has always been my favorite time in the church calendar. I know, I know. Theologians say our favorite time really should be Easter, with the Resurrection and promise of eternal life through Jesus, but for me Easter celebrates the end of the beginning of the Christian faith. The Christmas story is the beginning of the beginning and sets the tone for what is to come.
What a beginning it is! My heart yearns all year for that celebration. Like John in Elizabeth’s womb, I jump for joy when I see it coming. No matter what difficulties or sorrows or challenges come at me during the year, I have Advent waiting for me at the end.
After my parents divorced when I was little, Advent still came, and I laughed and clapped my hands and sang in joy. The year my grandfather passed, Advent was especially hard, but it still came and comforted me. The year my husband went to war, Advent still came and brought me peace.
This year, I'm mourning my grandmother, and I know that Advent will bring me peace now just as it has before.
Isn’t it amazing what a little baby in a manger can do for us, if we let Him? Advent invites us to focus on our joy in Jesus. It invites us to prepare the way of the Lord, to bubble over with joy and share the good news with all we meet.
In Psalm 30, David sings to the Lord of a joy that prefigures Christmas joy: “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.”
Let’s accept the invitation of Advent. Let’s turn our mourning and sackcloth to dancing and decorations. Let’s be like the angels and the shepherds and share the good news.
Joy to the World! The Lord has come!