My Holiday story is not much of a story, but rather a reflection. There has been so much happening in the world this holiday season that I’ve gotten preoccupied. I’ve been busy with a new job, distracted with freelance work, and worse, I can’t seem to stop worrying about the world. I don’t go to church much but that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t say that because I studied theology or because I have a startling amount of pastor friends. I say it because there have been very few times that I have felt whole and alive and connected in church. It usually happens somewhere else. Usually in a lecture, or in a verse of poetry. There is a moment where I feel wholly alive and the world seems bright, and hopeful. Once or twice that has happened in the dark sweet stillness of a church, as well. But normally—usually—I feel the most connected when I am going about my daily life.
Because it’s the holidays, and because I profess a Christian faith I have been thinking a lot lately about the current church season of Advent and what that means in the wake of so much hatred, terror, fear, and violence in the world. I’ve been trying for weeks to put it into words. And then it came to me, while I was sitting at my desk after lunch one day. Suddenly I just had to pour out what I felt onto a page. Advent was spilling out of me.
Advent is about new beginnings, it is about hope, it is about peace, it is about turning from darkness into light. My favorite Gospel is the Gospel of John, because its weird and quirky and not quite like the others. You don’t find the same stories in John that you find in the other Gospels. For that reason, a lot of pastors tend to ignore John. But I don’t. Especially John’s Christmas Story (or lack their of). John 1:5 says, “A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not over come it.” That simple verse, for me, is Advent. A light shines in the darkness and darkness does not over come it. How beautiful to think about. A light that keeps shinning and shinning, nothing can over come it, nothing can take it away.
These days I see a lot of darkness. I feel like I am surrounded by darkness and sadness and anger. And in a season that is supposed to be about Joy and love all I see is hate. This year, more than any year we need Advent. I need Advent.
Advent is about hope.
I hope that we move forward out of hatred. I hope that we move towards loving one another. I hope that we open our arms to all of our neighbors. I hope that we stop letting fear take the reigns. I hope that we have tolerance for all people. I hope that we love the killer the way we love the victim. I hope that we stop shooting each other. I hope that we stop blaming the victim. I hope that we stop raping. I hope that we stop shaming women for the choices that they make involving their own bodies. I hope that we acknowledge that racism is real and alive and we work together to create a world that is equal for everyone. I hope that we dismantle the patriarchy. I hope that we call refugees our friends. I hope that we stop dividing ourselves between blue and red, liberal and conservative. I hope that we stop making war. I hope that America stops thinking its number one. I hope that we stop colonizing other countries. I hope that little girls grow up knowing they can do anything men can do. I hope that we see transgendered people of all races. I hope that we let little boys play with dolls. I hope that we stop arguing over whether or not climate change is real. I hope that we stop letting money win. I hope that we stop fat shaming. I hope that we love the poor. I hope that we feed the homeless. I hope that we keep reading books. I hope that we keep telling stories about everything that is good in the world. I hope that we keep dreaming dreams bigger than ourselves. I hope.
I hope a lot of things.
Advent is for hope. It is a mystical time of year when the world seems translucent. When it seems like the answer to the worlds prayers is not that far away. Advent takes us back in time and moves us forward in history. We see the birth of a messiah, a rebel, a peace maker. We long to see that same peacemaker, rebel, and messiah again. Advent makes us stop and wait. Advent makes us listen to one another. To reach out and give hope. To touch the vail and maybe step through into a world that is better than our own. Into a world where peace has already come. Into a world that is only love. Advent shows us that possibility and challenges us to make it a reality. Advent teaches us to bear that same light as the peacemaker, the messiah, the rebel. Advent says that we are strong enough to not let the darkness, to not let the hatred, over take our hope.
I don’t want to loose hope that there are still good things in this world. But violence seems personified times ten during the holidays and made all the more painful when I think about what Advent is supposed to bring. But at the same time I am drawn closer to believing in that story of hope. I’m reminded that there is a light shinning somewhere in the darkness and the darkness will not over come. And that light chases away all of my fears and leaves me only with hope. Hope for a better day, a better world, a new beginning.
-Julia Nusbaum, Creator