Season of Hope
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as God’s only son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:9-14
Tonight my wife plans to wake us up in the middle of the night and drive an hour north to chase the stars. It’s their dream to see this atmospheric phenomenon, regarded as the Holy Grail of skywatching, or as I like to refer to it – God’s majestic light show – also known as aurora borealis. I never imagined myself living this far north and being able to witness these breathtaking waves of light without traveling to Iceland, but here we are anticipating a nocturnal dream at the start of the liturgical new year!
How appropriate for the start of Advent. Like many of you, I did not grow up following the liturgical calendar as a born-again, fundamentalist Pentecostal Christian. I was introduced to the Advent season in 2008 by the late Carol Gillispie, a blind devout Catholic woman, who I assisted while I lived in New Haven, Connecticut while interning for my clinical social work graduate program. She did all the things to prepare for the coming of Christ – from having an Advent Calendar full of chocolate, reading an Advent daily devotional, attending nightly mass, lighting Advent candles, erecting a Christmas tree, putting up evergreen decorations, to mailing out greeting cards to her closest 250+ friends. The following year I began observing Advent, even though I was more pagan than Christian back then, and I fell in love. It would take another 10 years before I would find my way home.
Advent is one of the seasons I feel most fully and consciously embodied as a Christian or follower of Christ. We don’t just retell the story of the light of Jesus coming into the world, but we live it. We anticipate the true light coming into the world every night upon the start of Advent. We wonder and wait. Our limitless God chooses to be born a baby from an unwed mother in a small country among an oppressed people under occupation. Who is this God that chooses to be born in a stable as a peasant child among simple, lowly people? How will this child bring about the salvation we long for when they choose to enter the world so powerless?
The truth is we may never understand the mystery of God, but I want to be ready to receive God for who they are and not who or what I imagine they should be. I want to be prepared for the God who is coming – someone so unexpected and so small. The world is a mess, we are exhausted, the earth is aching, there are so many senseless wars and deaths, and God chooses to send a baby.
God’s children pray for the heavens to come down. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In this season, we pray and we wait. We wait in darkness. We are still and patient. We pray and we hope. Living in this reality but imagining a different one. Gathered in darkness. We are not afraid. We wait and we hope. For something tender is forming. Something beautiful and bright, like the lights we hope to see in the sky tonight. Something for the world’s saving is waiting to be born.
What expectations and activity of life can we let go of so that we can be more prepared for the coming of Christ, the true light of the world?
May we patiently wait and prepare for the Christ who is being born within us.
Sana DelCorazón is the queer daughter of Puerto Rican migrants who grew up Pentecostal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is in her final year at seminary pursuing an MDiv and Master’s in Ethics and Justice from United Theological Seminary in the Twin Cities. Sana currently lives with her spouse (Gina), son (Toño), dog (Charlie) and cat (Pickles) in Minneapolis, MN.