I swear, I didn’t wear purple on purpose today.
I have a tendency to match my outfits to the liturgical calendar, so there may have been something in my subconscious encouraging me to grab the purple scarf from my scarf rack on the way out the door, but I didn’t realize I was sartorially marking the start of Advent until I got to work this morning.
There may be years when the circumstances of our lives match the themes of the church year. We might feel repentant or dolorous during Lent, or have a joyful, renewing experience during Easter. Sometimes we have to work a little harder to fit these themes into our hearts and lives, and I’ve come to believe that those seasons are often the most fruitful.
During Advent we focus on hope, the confidence that God makes good on promises. I am hardwired for hope (its definitely the theological virtue that comes most easily to me), but I have been in a long season of having a life that doesn’t look quite how I want it to, and I have let my hope atrophy a little bit.
It’s not that I don’t still have this forward-looking faith, but that I have not filled out the other other side of expectation.
The other side of this hope is not mere expectation but also readiness. I can’t be ready for whatever’s coming next if I’m clinging to my idea of what is best. I have feared letting go of my wants and desires, letting go of my anguish, because if I am not appropriately anguished how will God know what I want? Part of me believes that the heaviness of my heart is what will direct God toward my longed-for outcomes.
Sometimes I become spiritually complacent, thinking that because I have achieved a certain level of theological sophistication and self-reflection that I have done enough. But there’s always more to do – or more to allow to be done in me. Even though it will be challenging, I believe that I can shed a few more attachments, and I believe that letting go of those attachments will move me closer to God and perhaps allow me to see the design that God has been trying to reveal to me all along.
This Advent, I’m getting my hope back.
How will you be observing Advent?