During advent we wait. Even as a kid and even before I knew about advent I spent the month of December waiting. I waited for the tree, the lights, the cooler weather, the songs, the shopping, the wrapping. I waited for the morning of gifts. I waited for all of it. Full of expectation. Full of wonder. Full of joy. Full of love.

Sometimes it seems like every thing is different now. I have grown up. My daughter has grown up. My family has changed and changed again and then changed again. Getting a tree isn’t the same. No one goes caroling through my neighborhood. Even the weather seems different.

Sometimes the changes feel like losses. Sometimes I am disappointed or empty. Lonely. I miss those things and the joyful expectations that they held.

Then came Advent. Of course Advent predates me by more than 1500 years. But it came into my life just when I needed it. It helps me put my longings into perspective and helps hold disappointment and loneliness at bay.

Advent is the time in the Christian calendar when we anticipate the celebration of the coming of Jesus and we look forward to His return. It is the beginning of the Church year. Each year we practice this waiting and anticipating with worship, prayer, song and private devotions.

As a child I awaited Santa Claus, but now in Advent I look forward to the celebration of Jesus having come and lived among us. I look forward to His return. I look to see the presence of God at hand. Now every twinkling light, waft of pine, pile of presents, glass of eggnog, carol and holiday greeting has its place. So does every lonely moment. So does every disappointment. They pull me into Advent and the joy of waiting, anticipating and experiencing God with us, Immanuel.

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