Advent Is for Sad People
Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,
Advent—the Church season observed over the four weeks preceding Christmas—is a season characterized by hope, repentance, and waiting. Advent means “coming.” It is a time when we remember the first coming of our Lord Jesus (as we prepare for the Church’s celebration of Christmas) and we prepare fore the second coming of our Lord Jesus (as we remember His promise to come again).
In observing Advent, we admit that things are not right. The world and our lives are not as God would have them be. We admit that we are a part of this “wrongness,” hence repentance for our sin. Because God has shown His love for us in Christ Jesus, we have hope that this is not how things will always be. A change is coming. We long for the day when all is made right again, though we have no idea when that will be; so we wait.
Maybe I’m inclined toward melancholy, but Advent is my favorite season of the Church year. Typically, it is observed in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations—the commercial garland that would mask the suffering of the world. This year is different. In 2020, the suffering of the world is such that it cannot be concealed beneath strands of tinsel and sparkling lights.
People are sad—depressed even—and it’s no wonder why. Advent, though, is a gift the Church has to offer the world. That’s because Advent is for sad people.
Nowhere is this made clearer than in Advent’s hymns. I love a good Christmas carol as much as the next guy—maybe more so! Yet, if there is a category of underappreciated hymns, it is that of Advent. The hymns of Advent speak the truth about the darkness of the world in which we live. They put words to the longing we feel in our bones. They buoy us with hope as we struggle to keep our head above water.
“Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel”
“Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers”
“Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending”
“Savior of the Nations, Come”
“Comfort, Comfort Now My People”
“Hark, the Glad Sound”
“Joy to the World”
By their titles alone, you can see how these hymns lift the eyes of a sad and depressed and lonely people to look with hope for their Savior. As you dig into the texts, these hymns strengthen and sustain us through the long, dark night as we await the coming Dawn.
Sing these hymns to each other. Pick up the phone and brighten someone’s day with a word of hope. Lift your neighbor’s head to look for a better day, even as you sit with them through the darkness of this night. Christ is coming; therefore, we have reason to rejoice!
Waiting and watching and praying with you,