As I was writing an essay yesterday evening, I glanced up from my work and gasped. A brilliant pink had spread across the clouds, the leaves from the nearby oak juxtaposed in black. A few minutes later, the pink had faded to brown, the sun swiftly leaving the sky to be enveloped by darkness.
Advent is like this. It appears for a few fleeting moments, rushing by in all of its glory, and we catch a glimpse that—if we’re paying attention—stirs our imagination and longing. But it is a brief season, shorter than Lent, much shorter than ordinary time.
What is Advent? It is the season of waiting and expectation that precedes the celebration of Christ’s birth. It is the beginning of the liturgical calendar, which marks the cycles that Christians walk through each year in remembrance of Jesus’ time on earth and our calling as His followers.
Perhaps Advent begins the liturgical year because it encourages a particular stance of waiting and expectation, of invitation and hope. Throughout the liturgical year, we are aware of the work being done within us by living through the narrative, but it is not something that can be forced. This season of waiting, of longing, reminds us of that grace that inhabits the liturgical year. And soon, we’ll experience those glimpses of beauty, hope, and light—reminders of His coming.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices.
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.