In the past few years, I've grown wildly in love with advent. I love the tradition of lighting the candles, of breath held in anticipation as we wait, of the "It may look bleak now but just wait until you see what's coming."
I'm in a phase where I need to look and see what's coming. I need hope, something solid to curl my fingers around, something to ignite a tiny flame within me that will burn bright and carry me through the depths of this dark winter.
Every year on my birthday, I pick a new word for the year. It's how I usher in a new year: with music and words and rituals and traditions. Last year my word was "Shalom." It meant peace, wholeness, and I craved it deeply. The year, in surprising ways, brought me shalom.
This year I felt a tiny tug at my heart, and through the whisperings of friends and my own thoughts, I landed on a prayer, an intention, for this next year.
Pray for a year of jubilee.
A year of restoration, of rest, of joy, of reclaiming sacred ground.
But in the days since claiming my word, a year of jubilee seems nearly impossible. A year of rejoicing and restoring and resting seems so far away when I feel heavy, full of self loathing, desperate and broken.
I am the one in need of the hope candle this Sunday.
I sit in this space, uncomfortable and humbly broken. When there's too much to be done, when the body fails, when I see so much pain and hurt surrounding our community this Christmas season, when quarrels rise up and rest seems like a dream, when the tears come without warning and the losses feel bigger than the gains, there is the tiny, flickering candle of hope.
I draw near to advent because I need to be a part of something bigger than myself. I need the hope, the peace and the joy and the love, offered because I can't create it on my own.
I am opening up space for Jesus becoming human. I need the hope of the birth of Jesus, the hope of His becoming fully man and fully God and living inside a human body so that I can make peace living in mine. I need His suffering on the cross as a nod to my suffering, a "Me too."
I am waiting, still with an aching deep inside me. Something isn't whole yet. I know this. I can feel it and I see it and I look around me and am so aware of our (my) depravity.
It's why I light the hope candle, why I am praying for a year of jubilee even when from where I'm standing it seems nearly impossible.
Because just you wait until you see what's coming