The Longing We Share
December 1, 2010 § 7 Comments
We have entered the season of Advent – the four weeks before Christmas in which we celebrate the ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’ (the meaning of the word, ‘Advent’) of Jesus. It isn’t an empty celebration. We don’t merely look back on something that has happened in history, but also to what will one day be ours in eternity.
We light Advent candles and participate in readings, music and messages that put into words and song the most basic longing of all creation to be restored to its Creator. Jeremiah’s prophecy captures this sentiment (33:16) – In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.
Lyrics such as, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and Ransom Captive Israel are filled with meaning that goes beyond one nation’s lament – It is the lament of a fallen humanity in a broken world – every individual captive to sin and sorrow – every nation shedding tears of the loss of its original beauty, meaning and delight. It is intended to be a time of self-examination, repentance and celebration.
The prophecies, the narratives and the poetry that lace the scriptures in anticipation and annunciation of Jesus’ arrival all serve as expressions of this longing.
This longing is what connects all humanity. It hit me as Katherine and I drove through Virginia in our return from Florida where we enjoyed Thanksgiving with our son Kevin, and his wife Sarah and her family. At some point Katherine suggested that, for the fun of it, we get off I-95 and travel north on US-1. US-1 is a route on the east coast that stretches north and south from Key West in Florida all the way to Maine. It runs through Baltimore and it is the vital highway in the southern hemisphere of the city of Miami.
Actually I was on my hometown road, only a few miles north (well okay, about 800 miles!). Whenever I get on US-1 in Baltimore I call one of my buddies in Miami. The chances are good that he is too, and one of us will tell the other that we’ll meet at Shorty’s, our favorite barbecue place (in the world), down there.
Maybe it is adult make-believe, but for a few moments we pretend to be a few miles away from Shorty’s – we can pretend that because in a very real sense, the same road connects us.
Advent is a season in which all humanity shares in the longing for something sweeter – a day when all that is broken will be repaired and all that is lost will be restored. Paul tells us that this is a longing of creation (Romans 8), and no one walks the planet without a taste of that deep yearning.
All share this longing because all are unfinished and because all bear the wounds and scars of a world that was created to be beautiful, but has been damaged by the fall.
A friend recently posted lines on Facebook from T.S. Eliot’s The Rock:
What life have you if you have not life together?
There is no life that is not in community
And no community not lived in praise of God
The evangelical world is all too often preoccupied by what it doesn’t share with the world. While it is true that the season is a celebration of the Church Universal, the Advent message itself speaks to what all humanity does share. We share brokenness. We share loss. And we share a desire for everything to be made right. For those who know Jesus, there is hope because we have tasted of the beautiful future through the forgiveness of sins and the assurance that the One we have longed for has come, and is coming.
Indeed, this is Good News…