This time of year is busy for most people. Christmas parties, purchasing Christmas gifts, trying to be happy and enjoy yourself in the midst of the stress and all that must be done before Christmas. I remember one year a coworker stating that he was off to “pretend to have fun” at a Christmas party. He was a pretty friendly guy and liked being with people, so I was surprised at his response. When I questioned why he had to “pretend”, he stated that it was because he had been to so many other Christmas parties already that he didn’t really want to go to another one, but he had to since these friends had invited him and they were close friends of his. So true. I definitely have been in this situation before.
As a student, this time is particularly busy for me. As much as I want to do the fun Christmas things, I feel like I’ve put them on hold. Christmas is coming…AFTER finals. We can make Christmas cookies AFTER finals. We can go Christmas shopping AFTER finals. This year has been one of much waiting. Waiting to go to school. Waiting to be done with school. Waiting to find an internship. Waiting to hear about job interviews for Brian. Waiting for Brian and I to be in the same place. Waiting for finals to come and be done. Waiting to see the sun and 75 degree weather!
I heard someone mention that Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, is supposed to be a time where you don’t have to pretend to be happy. That seems ironic, because generally around Christmas time we get the feeling that everything has to be perfect — the dining table, the decorations in your house, the wrapping of the presents, finding the perfect gifts, having the best dressed outfit, etc. And then on top of that you have to make sure that everyone gets along at Christmas time. People will say “smile, it’s almost Christmas”. However, Advent is supposed to be a time when we recognize the turmoil of the world around us — when we notice the grief that’s tearing apart families around us, when we notice the people who are having difficulty paying their rent, or surviving through finals. It’s a time to notice that something IS wrong in this world. Of course, we want it to be happy and “Christmas-like” where everyone is satisfied, but that’s not real life. Real life involves many hurts and a lot of waiting. But there is a good type of waiting. There is an expectant waiting for the hope that is to come. In the same way that the hope of being home with Brian, my family, and my dear friends gets me through finals, there’s another type of expectant waiting, given by hope that gets me through.
Advent is expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. That’s why we we can recognize the world around us with its woes and still have hope; we are waiting for Christmas and the hope that it brings. The hope from Christmas comes because of the recognition that we don’t have it all together, but that hope is coming. The reason that so many traditional Christmas songs sing about hope and joy is because of Jesus. As I’ve learned the past few weeks, many of my Tepper friends haven’t celebrated Christmas before. The reason we celebrate Christmas is to remember that God is good, and he did send his Son to save us from the horrible things in the world.
As much as I am waiting to go home and be done with school for the semester, the thing that I remember most is that I am waiting for the celebration that Jesus has come. God himself has come to be a part of our world and lives. Recognizing that does bring hope. This is what we’re waiting for. The celebration that God has come.
Hope has come. Remembering this throughout the Christmas season allows us to recognize the world around us yet find joy in the realization that God has come.
(And I’m also excited that I’ll be in SoCal in 5 days!)
One of my favorite Christmas songs (since we played it in the Songs of Christmas at EFCC a few years ago in this version). The words are great.
Another good one this year