Hope Begins in the Dark

An Advent thought.

Advent is a rhythm of the church calendar that matches the seasons of the earth, for the northern hemisphere at least. Late autumn is the end of the growing season. The harvest is brought in; the anxiety of whether there will be a harvest or not is over; and it becomes feast time. The long days of field work are over too. Double feast time!

While it is feast time, the night sky is getting darker and darker, earlier and earlier and colder and colder. There is feasting but there is also anxiousness because the world is turning dark. Will the cold devour them? Will the food last? Will the darkness take something?

Feasting and fear. Joy and pain. Light and dark. We get both.

In the growing darkness we subconsciously ask, “Will the sun return again to grow life?” Thankfully we now know that December 21 is the winter solstice. We know that the sun will return again, a little bit more and more each day.

Here is where the Christmas season falls—with lots of Christmas lights. And lots of distractions and noise and too much money spent. This is the opposite of the rhythm. Is this all a coping mechanism to get through the dark?

Between the feasting and the winter solstice we have Advent. The church calendar part that recognizes the waiting in the darkness because the Light is coming. A new beginning is coming. Advent is adventus or coming.

Advent on the church calendar is when light and life is fading so we set aside four weeks to focus on the waiting and the darkness to remember that in the waiting and in the darkness God is still at work.

Advent is a Christmas tradition moving in step with creation. Like nature, we hibernate inward to find this Larger Story God. (While still attending Christmas parties.)

Is this a rhythm that your soul is seeking? In the beautiful and memory-filled chaos of Christmas, can you make time for Advent? For some sort of Advent practice?

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