The year begins in darkness. Long nights, short days. We gather before the dawn–in the dark of human struggles and fears and loss. What lies ahead? What obstacles may block our way? Will we lose our way in the valley of the shadow of death? Night terrors haunt our days with division and distrust all around us. The nation is shouting. Brother against brother. Fathers and sons turning apart. Our country and even our world seem doomed to repeat another year of anger and hatred; another year of striving.
Advent is a season of waiting, looking, watching for the coming of the Lord, the coming of the Light. We watch and wait even as we walk an ancient path lit by songs of Gods’ people from ages past and the Wisdom of God handed down in Scripture and story and prayer. Advent is hope calling out in the dark. It is the song the of the nightingale, waking us in the deep night of sleep and calling us to watch for the hope that is coming, will come, has come.
As I started writing these words, my wife asked me to come and help her plant some trees. We walked around the leaf-covered lawn, looking for potential sites. Thoughts of the Advent journey still soaked my mind as I starting digging a hole. After covering the plant in dirt, my wife knelt down and prayed a blessing. I watched hope in action. Preparing for the light of tomorrow in the simple act of planting today.
Advent might be like planting a garden in the dark. We expect a coming light that will awaken these seeds to life. Isaiah sings out to the exiled children of God,
O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord. (2:5)
And his song still echoes. Let us heed the call and walk in hope. As we go, let us plant seeds of love and peace and healing and joy. We plant a seed and keep moving forward in hope. In each step, we watch and wait expectantly for the Sun of Righteousness to come with healing in His wings.
Image by Dunnock_D (used by permission via Creative Commons).