I need the
Time to align
My Self with His Heart
Time to align
My crooked perspective
To allow Him to unravel
As only He can.
This meditation took me down an awesome but unexpected path. (Isn’t that just His way?) Like many, I get sentimental around the holidays and enjoy all the feels of Christmas music, twinkling lights, and the Nativity scene. I am, however, realizing that I have been equating Advent with Lenten season, a preparing of the heart. That’s not wrong; it’s just that I think it is easy to hyper-focus on Advent with its connection to the Nativity or Mary’s perspective. After reading through a previous post https://awalkdownchamomilelane.com/2022/04/02/shaping-your-space/, I was ready to plunge into another mindful meditation, a reminder to myself to have those Mary moments of awe and magic in the midst of a season that can be strewn with a maelstrom of emotions for so many. I was looking forward to unraveling a few of those “strings” I had tied on my fingers and to hitting the “reset” button on some of those disappointments, unexpected frustrations, or even triggers of loneliness or rejection I’d been processing.
But Advent is about more than a mindful and meditative manger scene. From the Latin adventus, the literal meaning of Advent in verb form is advenio. I love the rich supply of synonyms that I found in Stephen Beale’s “The Deeper Meaning of Advent in Latin” (catholicexchange.com): arrive, come to, develop, set in, arise, invasion, incursion, ripening, appearance. Its use was in terms of military conquest on the battlefield or of an emperor parading into a city, as in “The arrival of the army,” or “The arrival of the emperor!” This is no common, humble nativity scene! Can you imagine the glory and awe the “advent” of these epic events would inspire? The arrival of a mass of vibrant plumes swaying atop shining helmets as the army marched forth; the banners preceding the arrival of an emperor and his entourage!
Another cool connection for me as I contemplated these things is that emperor also has related word origins to advent. Literally, the Latin imperare, “to command” as in a military commander, has a forward moving, active, quality to it. The prefix in- and stem parare means towards and prepare, respectively. This definitely conjures up feelings of advancement for me, like our synonyms listed previously: arrive, come to, develop, set in, arise, invasion, incursion, ripening, appearance. Is there one that resonates with your spirit?
So what does a quiet manger scene have in common with such an impressive and bedazzled Advent, resplendent with Christmas lights?
It is that intentional “ripening” or resetting of our souls; a paradigm shift of expectation or anticipation of the coming of the Lord in the battle-weary situation. It is breathing Hope into the darkness, much like the newborn Christ-child breathes awe and wonder into our aging frames. It’s renewing the “expected arrival” when disappointment seems to be the melody of our day after day after day, when we have fought and our souls seem frozen in a state of “fight or flight,” and now we are left enduring the aftermath, directionless in the new normal life has thrown at us: enduring another round of chemo or enduring the strain in the relationship of a wayward child. The list could go on. When we are so focused on enduring, making it through, we hardly have energy to fan the flame of expectation—the anticipation that we will arrive at a new point in our journey; an expected end that life’s circumstances won’t keep us in an emotional vertigo forever. Bill Johnson says it like this:
The nature of hope…
the joyful anticipation of good…
gives you permission to experience
the answered benefits
and joy of an answered prayer
before it even happens.
“The Power of Choosing Joy”
It’s the arrival of an invitation to enter into the suffering with a “peace that passes understanding” (Phil. 4:7) while yet in the throes of suffering; an invitation to center our soul while at the same time inviting the infant God to manifest himself in a relationship that has experienced toxic rupture; an invitation that supercedes the frustrations and disappointments; an invitation that outweighs the triggers of loneliness and rejection. After all, the arrival of this invitation is the most important invitation of all, one that was delivered with great panache, everlasting promises that I could sink my teeth into.
Is it any wonder that Advent is the acknowledgement of a Warrior King embodied in this infant king?
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
On those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned,
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy.”
Isaiah 9:2-3 NIV
“The Lord will go forth like a warrior,
He will arouse His zeal like a man of war.”
Isaiah 42:13 NASB
I saw…a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.
With justice he judges and wages war.
His eyes are like blasting fire, and on his head are many crowns.
He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.
He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood,
and his name is the Word of God.
The armies of heaven were following him,
riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean…
On his robe and on his thigh he has the name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation 19:11-16 NIV
“Blessed is the man who endures…”
James 1:12 NKJV
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you…
thoughts of peace, and not of evil,
to give you an expected end.”
Jeremiah 29:11 KJV