Here is a snippet of a great article re: the rhythm of Advent (and the church calendar as a whole) from Rob Bell:
Advent is about anticipating the birth of Christ. It’s about longing, desire, that which is yet to come. That which isn’t here yet. And so we wait, expectantly. Together. With an ache. Because all is not right. Something is missing.
Why does Advent mean so much to me?
Because cynicism is the new religion of our world. Whatever it is, this religion teaches that it isn’t as good as it seems. It will let you down. It will betray you.
That institution? That church? That politician? That authority figure? They’ll all let you down.
Whatever you do, don’t get your hopes up. Whatever you think it is, whatever it appears to be, it will burn you, just give it time.
Advent confronts this corrosion of the heart with the insistence that God has not abandoned the world, hope is real and something is coming.
Advent charges into the temple of cynicism with a whip of hope, overturning the tables of despair, driving out the priests of that jaded cult, announcing there’s a new day and it’s not like the one that came before it.
“The not yet will be worth it,” Advent whispers in the dark.
Old man Simeon stands in the temple, holding the Christ child, rejoicing that now he can die because what he’d been waiting for actually arrived.
And so each December (though Advent starts the last Sunday of November this year), we enter into a season of waiting, expecting, longing. Spirit meets us in the ache.
We ask God to enter into the deepest places of cynicism, bitterness and hardness where we have stopped believing that tomorrow can be better than today.
We open up. We soften up. We turn our hearts in the direction of that day. That day when the baby cries His first cry and we, surrounded by shepherds and angels and everybody in between, celebrate that sound in time that brings our Spirits what we’ve been longing for.
Click here for the full article
- What are you cynical about in our world today? About church?
- How might Advent confront this cynical corrosion of your heart?
- What ache/longing do you have deep in your heart that you could talk to God about today?
- In what ways do you believe the "not yet" of God's kingdom, both here on earth and after death, be worth it? What part of the "not yet" do you look forward to?
- Listen in and ask God, "In what part of my life/outlook might you want to soften my heart?"