Remembering & Anticipating
Stationed at their post on the back of the couch, faces and hands pressed against the frosty window, our kids keep watch for that first glimpse of red brake lights lighting up, while Grandma’s burgundy Honda slows, making the turn into our driveway. Any moment they will abandon their post in a flurry of singular delight: “Grandma is here! Grandma is here!” The ensuing mad scamper of children dashing through living room and dining room, then kitchen and back hall will leave couch cushions crumpled, once neatly folded blankets askew, and our pets in a confused scurry, unsure of whether they should hide under the table, join the joyful delight, or courageously defend our door.
In a way, our kids’ anticipation, rooted in the memory of Grandma’s previous visits, fills the Advent season as we both remember Jesus Christ’s birth and anticipate his second coming. These rhythms of remembering and anticipating provide the primary cadence for this season. Advent is neither a nostalgic longing for a past that has been lost nor a naïve fixation on a utopia that remains always out of reach. Rather, by looking back at what God has already done and looking ahead at what God has promised yet to do, Advent roots us deeper in the assurance that God is with us – even here, even now.
There are untold variants on how to mark out the Advent season. Most involve scripture readings, lighting candles, and counting down the days until Christmas. Some involve unwrapping little gifts, like chocolates, money, or small ornaments, as a way of building excitement along the way. One of the more traditional approaches focuses on four themes – Hope, Peace, Joy, Love – noting how they encourage our attention on Jesus Christ.
Relying on these themes, this devotional connects us to Luke’s narratives about Jesus’ birth (Sundays), while also immersing us in Isaiah’s good news that God has not left us on our own (Monday – Saturday). I pray that you might be strengthened in your faith and awareness that God is with us through this devotional and throughout this Advent season.