Emptiness, Longing & Advent

November 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Empty Mall“Our longings remind us of the essential human fact that we are talked and touched into life, and that a human race struggling to do all its talking and touching for itself faces a paralyzing unhappiness and anxiety.”

Rowan Williams, A Ray of Darkness

It is difficult to imagine that in a few hours this mall will be utterly packed with shoppers. Yesterday (Black Friday) was so crazy that I never got out of my car. Having no reason to be here other than to witness the madness, I just circled the parking lot a few times, then went home.

But now, in this early hour, it is empty. Quiet.

There was a day when I couldn’t handle emptiness or sadness. It was worse than idealism. Something within me actually believed I deserved life to always go well. I know, it sounds ugly – and it is, and it gets uglier, because it was rooted in a practical rejection of my need for Jesus.

It is Advent, that sweet time of the year when we celebrate longing, of all things. We celebrate because we know that Jesus has come. And every December we rehearse this cry in anticipation that He will come again and make everything new.

The temptation is to translate these longings into sad things, and to be sure, there is a place for sorrow in a broken world, but I think they are more than that. God put these longings within us, not as cruel reminders of despair, but to serve as hints of something better.

I am convinced that Jesus was addressing this longing when He told His disciples of His ‘Father’s House’ (John 14:1-6). It is an emptiness we will feel, sometimes in huge gulps, and other times in small doses – until we are Home.

And in this hope we are liberated to live life to the fullest. To grieve unashamedly. To laugh unapologetically. To love boldly. To give generously. To forgive freely. To serve humbly. To embrace our longings, and live!

We celebrate a God who satisfies us with Himself and not from a distance – this is at the heart of the Incarnation – God has come, in the flesh, and until He returns nothing will satisfy completely. And this means we can embrace every sadness and longing as daily reminders that God has prepared something better. Because in Jesus… He has.

What good news.

peace.

Oh, come, Desire of nations,
bind 
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,

And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Translated by John Mason Neale

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