Advent: Rejoice & Lament

Advent is one of those liminal seasons, an in-between time of looking back at the incarnation of Christ and looking forward to His second coming, a time of joy at the multitude of ways we already experience God's goodness and the pervasive, deep brokenness that reminds us that all things are not yet made right.

It feels appropriate this year.

I mean, I don't actually know when the last time was that I didn't feel like my life was undergoing some kind of major transition, because such is the nature of life.  So maybe it feels appropriate every year.

But this year, I'm rejoicing that I'm back in the US and don't need pages of details about logistics of winter travels.  I'm missing the sunshine of Thailand and the company of my Wheaton cohort.  I'm rejoicing in having opportunity to continue teaching at the Village Church, and I'm missing my students from Chuan Wai.  I'm loving watching the VC kids grow in their friendships with each other and their understanding of God, and I'm grieving for the harsh reality that they live in and get hurt by.

I'm celebrating the church community that has welcomed me with such open hearts and arms (and houses, and refrigerators...) and looking forward to confirmation, and I am hard-core grieving the thought of no longer being Presbyterian, feeling like one of the last links to the world I grew up in is about to be decisively severed.

I'm rejoicing at the news that God has made a way for these dear friends to be moving to Pittsburgh next year -- what a glorious answer to some of our prayers! -- and missing so many others who are scattered all over the world.

I'm marveling at the joy that it is -- what, fifteen years later? -- to still be receiving letters from my long-time friend Madeline, to see her familiar handwriting on an envelope.  I am grieving with friends who have been bruised by broken hopes and some of the ways that love in a fallen world goes so, so wrong.  I'm shivering in the cold and complaining about the short days and joyfully singing Adeste Fidelis and reveling in the fact that I got to attend the Genevans' Christmas concert this year.  And on and on it goes.  You could make your own list, I'm sure.

So there it is.  Advent 2019.

In the words of Josh Garrels,

Learn this lesson well, my friend
There's a time to rejoice and lament
Every season will find its end
All will fade and be made new again.

Today Catie and I were discussing the famous words of Julian of Norwich and how perfectly they encapsulate our experience:

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

All is not yet well, but it will be.


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