I love Advent. It's a season that speaks to my soul. The glory we are on the verge of. The hope that wants to be born amongst us. The despair that Israel was in. The despair we often find ourselves in. Darker, longer nights as we talk about brighter shining light. Waiting for birth. Waiting for the birth of someone and something that will change everything and set the broken things right. The birth and re-birth of the one who will beat our swords into plowshares and train lions to cuddle up with lambs for the coziness of a winter snuggle that is somehow warmer than the summer sun.
I love Advent!
And then I always struggle when it passes.
There's that empty feeling the day after.
I know God is painfully patient.
I know that at Advent we remember the story of Jesus first coming, long for Jesus' full coming, and spend our days on the look out for little comings - and ways we can participate in little comings.
And our Advent this year was filled with those little comings:
Neighbors finding a warm place and warm hearts at Our Common Ground.
Folks who have been done with church for some time showing up at Our Common Table.
More and more friends and acquaintances investing in fair trade products for Christmas.
Laughter over hot chocolate with my friend's eleven-year-old.
Our Christmas Eve service had people of all ages and all socioeconomic statuses from two churches and from a community of neighbors experiencing poverty. It was a holy moment. When we sang about Christ's coming, we could also see Christ's coming in the faces around the room.
There were lots of little comings.
When Advent comes to its fruition on Christmas Eve, and we pass light around the room like a delightfully contagious pathogen and sing "Night Divine," sing "Chains shall God break for the slave is our brother and in God's name all oppression shall cease," I am on the edge of my seat!
But when we blow the candles out and walk away, oppression has not ceased.
The things that come out of the mouth of the candidate who shall not be named.
I grow weary from the labored breathing of mournful sighing.
Christmas morning comes and goes, and all that desperate waiting of Advent is still there. Unanswered.
And this year, I'm pregnant.
And my kiddo is scheduled for another two more moths chilling inside of me.
And she/he/ze keeps on kicking.
Throwing a party in my tummy each night when I'm trying to go to bed.
Stretching from inside and pushing my lap top a little further away even as I'm typing this.
And, maybe for the first time, I realize: What is gestating in Advent, yet unborn on Christmas, is not stillborn. Is not a figment of our imaginations. Is not an aborted hope. It's still kicking around. Gestating. Growing. Preparing. It is still coming. And we are still waiting. Still tending the hope and health of this new thing. Still preparing the way...in the desert if you are John or Isaiah...or in a womb and a nursery if you are me.
Advent is still kicking around in there. Jesus' coming is still growing among us. New life is still being woven together, practicing breathing, stretching those forming muscles - that will work love and justice - against the stretching uterus of the church and of the world.
And we are not bereft because we are not fulfilled.
We are yet pregnant.
And so we keep taking those prenatal vitamins.
Getting plenty of rest.
Sometimes Advent is like a baby due in late February. Christmas might come. But we are still waiting. And ze/he/she is still coming. Just not yet