I’m carrying boxes of glitter and trim up from the basement, strewing the house with tissue paper and bits of styrofoam, and these familiar mixed feelings for the coming holiday season, when the thought slides in like a hush and everything slows: Advent is best celebrated by the weary…the stressed, the grieving, the lonely…all the ones that struggle the most with the bright holiday rush. Those who are the most in need, can best rejoice in the One who has come for them, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.
It is the worn-out and the weary– the ones ready to give up on this headlong race to do more and better– that can welcome the message “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) They do not need to throw themselves into the gala and glitz to find something to satisfy, because their hearts are already kneeling before the manger of the King of Heaven.
Advent rings out with every carol that we are not alone, because God Himself has come down to us. It is the lonely ones longing for family and a Forever-love that will most thrill to hear “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) We belong in the realest of ways, when we find our Home in the presence of the One who made us.
It could well be that those who hunger for God and His kingdom will find more joy in the Babe who is born than in any number of presents and parties. It is the broken in need of mending who are looking for the answers, and Advent is the best news of all: “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (Malachi 4:2)
And on the days we feel most deeply the injustice and pain of this broken struggling world, we can rejoice most, because Emmanuel is come, God with us. To all those who grieve for their losses, Advent reminds us there will be an end to the hard things of this earth, for the One who comes is the Prince of Peace Himself. The Prophet says it clear and strong: “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) Advent anticipates a Savior who carries our pain, delivers us from sin and its curse. This is a Light that shines in the darkness and makes everything new.
Advent is the place we wait for the unveiling of God’s redemptive plan…where our deepest longings meet their fulfillment, and God’s promises come true right before our eyes. Rejoice, oh weary world, for your Savior comes to you! And Jesus’ words echo with the utmost certainty : “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) He comes in answer to every needy, joyful heart.
Our displays of distress, far from dishonoring our God, honor him as Creator and Redeemer, who ‘comes to make his blessing flow far as the curse is found’….Our longing is for happily ever after, but not the ones we find in wishful, fictitious fairy tales. Our longing is for the Happily Ever After that is also true because it is rooted in time-space history and sealed by our Lord’s resurrection from the dead and promised return. The fact that Jesus will come again is our reason to rejoice.Beautiful People Don’t Just Happen, Scott Sauls
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy….Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert….and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.from Isaiah 35