- - A D V E N I R E - -
A latin word composed of “ad” meaning “to” & “venire” meaning “come”. It is the word from which we adapted ADVENT.
Advent is a time of waiting for what is TO COME. . . and it begins on Sunday.
For the last few years, Advent has been the season of the church calendar with which I have felt the most connected with, desirous of, and devoted to. This is because the last few years of my life have been hard on my soul. As a student of theology I came to that point that some of you may find vaguely familiar where I was: confused about what I believed, consumed by my questions, lost in my thoughts of God, even frustrated with the Bible. . . and it felt like I wasn’t coming up for air for months at a time because it felt dishonest to surface when those thoughts still lingered like an anchor on every part of me. And yet, whenever Advent rolled around, there was always a peace ushered in with it that relieved my soul from some of its worry.
Now, I wrote all of that in the past tense. . . but I must admit that I am still in that season of my life. Not quite at the same depth as I had been over the last 3 years, but it still lingers. And now as Advent rolls back around, I am breathing deeply at just the thought of it.
But I must say, there is one thing that has gotten in the way of my Advent preparations: support raising.
Today is December 1st and it is the deadline we set back at training in August for when we should hit 100%. . .and ever since then I have been working and praying in hopes of what today would be: the finish line of this good but exhausting and sometimes uncomfortable race towards "fully-funded."
Today I am at 50% of my financial need though. Not quite what I expected, not quite what I’d hoped for. . .in fact, its only half of what I prayed for.
My first thought after realizing my deadline would have to be extended was “now I have to work through Christmas.” I have so been looking forward to enjoying my last holiday season in the US with my family and to being able to fully immerse myself in Advent traditions without the distractions I usually have (school). And so, I was a little let down. I just worked hard for three months and still I haven’t achieved what I was supposed to.
So, for the last week I have been wondering how I am supposed to be properly prepared to participate in Advent when I have money to worry about? And as I sat thinking about it tonight, I realized something I desperately needed to. . . and that’s what the rest of this post will be about: the true meaning of Advent- in terms of Christmas, and fundraising, and life in general.
Though I may not have realized it, and sort of even resented it, I am actually in a most ideal place to begin Advent. I felt the need to prepare for the season, to clean everything up and put it away so I could just focus on these 4 weeks of heightened spiritual meaning. . . and yet nothing could be further from the truth of Advent: that God comes to us.
God comes to us in our mess. God comes to us in our anticipation and in our despair. God comes to us in our burdens, amidst our busyness, past our barriers, and through all the brambles of life. He steps into it. . . and we can’t possibly prepare well for that; it is an event that is so beyond our comprehension that all we can do is wait…and hope.
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A good friend of mine has a tattoo on his arm that reads “Agape Misce Nobis.” This is a latin phrase that we see written on a lot of christian artifacts from the first few centuries after Christ’s death, and it is often used in relation to communion. It means “love joins with us.” The word for “joins” is actually more directly translated as “mixes” and is the same word used to speak of wine mixing which implies the impossibility of separation once the combination has been made.
To me, this is a perfect illustration of what we are waiting for in Advent . . . we are waiting for God to show up and join with us. . . and we wait for it every year, though its already been done and cannot be undone. We wait for it every year because it helps us to remember, it helps us to celebrate, it helps us to renew our joy and hope and trust in God― a God who has stepped into our time and joined with us inseparably and incomprehensibly.
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So what about support raising amidst all of this?
Well, I certainly have wondered why my funding has not come in by the deadline I worked toward and prayed toward. The truth is that I really don’t know. . . but I also wonder if maybe it didn’t happen, at least in part, so I could see all of this: that support raising is just like every other part of my life. . . something that I have to trust God will step into, something I cannot prepare for but must wait on, and hope in God for.
. . . . . . . . . . .
Dante once wrote about how ‘time is love,’ and I think he was right. God has lovingly given us time to live and experience and grow and break. But I think God’s greatest love is not that He gave us time but that He stepped into it, and that He continues to do so.
Time can also be thought of as seasons…This Advent I pray we realize that God HAS COME into our every season of life. As we wait, as we hope, as we fundraise, as we doubt, as we work―He is there, like wine into water― never to be separated again.
May we rest in that truth no matter the season we are in.
“May we welcome December with a tireless hope” . . . no matter how tired we are.
I know this blog was a bit scattered with lots of different starting points… so thanks for bearing with me…I hope it kind of communicated how I am feeling and what I am learning in this season of support raising that is not going quite as planned.
I’ll end with one more bout of Latin, just for consistency:
Pax Christi… or Christ’s Peace,
P.S. I just wanted to offer up a few advent resources should you be interested in participating in a more liturgical Advent than you may be used to: