War. Violence. Hatred. Disease. Death. Abuse of power. Suffering. Hidden bruises. Insecurity. Fear. Injustice. Abuse in the place of love. Divorce. Broken relationships. Poverty. Sexual violence.
Everywhere we look, we see a world full of hurt, full of pain; a world with hurt that is so deep-seeded and generations deep that it seems impossible to weed it out and replace it with healing. Sometimes, we can turn a blind eye if we really want to, of course, but the brokenness of our world always has a way to sneak in when we’re not looking. Sometimes we don’t have to look any further than inside ourselves.
Advent: Traditionally a season of waiting and a season of anticipation. Christmas without Advent robs us of the opportunity to be intentional-to prepare ourselves, to slow down, and to be more aware of the world around us. Christmas without Advent tempts us to fill up the month of December with to-do lists and Christmas shopping, with decorating and Christmas lights, with the Chipmunks and Rudolph, and to miss the main event.
A world of brokenness. A world without hope. A world that had been so sure that they had figured out the answers, but the restoration that continued to elude them. And into that world, a baby. A Savior in a baby’s body.
The Creator of the universe, suddenly unable to hold up his wobbly head and flailing his sweet baby arms. The Creator of the universe, furrowing his brow and seeing indistinguishable shapes and colors and trying to make sense of it all. The Creator of the universe completely dependent on a man and a woman who were still trying to figure out their own lives.
A Creator who knew that the only way to begin restoring a broken world was to enter it. We all know that the ones who think they have all the answers but have never experienced the problem are usually full of a lot of nice-sounding hot air. This Creator got down and dirty, and grew into a man: dusty feet, hunger, poverty, rejection, and being misunderstood. This Creator in human skin said that He came to show a new way of doing life. A way that leads to life. A way that leads to living water.
As the great theologian Ricky Bobby said, “I like Christmas Jesus best.”
But before Christmas, there’s a pause for Advent. We long for hope–the kind of longing that sometimes makes you cry or breaks your heart. A hope that a bright light has come and that there’s a new way that Jesus taught. A hope that Paul’s words are true: That the same God who began a good work will complete it. A hope that there’s a different way of doing life: a way, not defined by revenge and about looking out for myself, but a way that’s defined by understanding my own short-comings and needs and keeping a pure heart; a way marked by mourning for the brokenness of the world rather than gloating; a way that prioritizes being gentle and full of mercy; a way that emphasizes making peace instead of causing division, a life that hungers and yearns for righteousness instead of injustice.
God help us. That’s a lot to fulfill on our own.