When the Covid-19 pandemic reached the United States back in March, I wrote a piece called Lent Came for Us. Shelter in place orders were just being issued in the United States. It was clear we would have a new kind of Lent imposed upon us, forced to give up things we love, things no one should normally choose to give up like in-person worship and the ability to visit family.
Now, more than eight months later we are about to enter a new season, the season of Advent.
Advent is a season of tension. There is so much hope, peace, joy, and love in this season...but it is also a sobering season of repentance that recognizes Jesus' power with awe and reverence.
Advent knows there is celebration soon to come. There is so much preparation with decorating and gift buying and cooking and baking and coordinating travel plans and Christmas cards and so much more.
Advent also knows there is persecution coming. As we wait for Jesus' ultimate return, we know that life won't be all sunshine and roses. There will be suffering as we wait. There will be suffering as we prepare for Jesus' final and permanent Advent.
This year, Advent comes for us. Millions of people throughout the world will have muted Christmas celebrations because somebody is permanently missing from the Christmas dinner table. There is suffering in tension with the hope of the resurrection.
This year, Advent comes for us. The chaos of restrictions, division, and injustice is prevalent. This chaos is in tension with the peace that passes all understanding.
This year, Advent comes for us. So many of us have been robbed of joy this year. I've lost count of how many canceled plans I have had. I have not seen my parents for a full year for the first time in my life. I'm constantly exhausted and frustrated and at a loss. This frustration is held in tension with the joys of Jesus that continually come regardless of how I feel.
This year, Advent comes for us. The United States has shown itself to be filled with indifference. The fact that many of the Covid-19 deaths that have occurred in the United States have been in nursing homes has been touted as a reason for us to feel safe and not worry rather than the greatest outrage of the pandemic. We're so indifferent to death so long as it fits with our idea of status quo. May that indifference constantly be conquered with the love of Jesus this Advent.
For Jesus' love will be the ultimate, remaining thing in the final Advent of the New Creation.