I grew up in a church in the south, but we never really celebrated advent. I mean, we went to Christmas parties. Our church read scripture about the birth of Christ. We sang all the songs. But the word "advent" didn't enter my lexicon until the past few years. Even now, I don't really spend a lot of weeks or even days preparing for the celebration of the Messiah.
I do know what it's like to wait. In August of 2009, Anna and I started the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. We had discussed this for years, and finally took the definitive step forward. Since then it's been a process of waiting. Get this form turned in and wait. Have this notarized then wait. Pay this fee and wait. Make this phone call and wait.
We decorated the house for Christmas with a slight sadness because we have waited so long and Lucy still isn't here yet. We had seen her face, but we didn't even know when we'd be able to view it outside of a backlit computer screen. It was frustrating.
A week ago we got a call from our agency that said we had a court date. We're going to be in Ethiopia at the end of January, and we arrive at court on February 4th with the anticipation that she will be ours. So now, even though she's not here yet, we celebrate Christmas with a joy that our lives are about to change forever. There will be new joys, new hopes, new life that enters our house. Maybe that's what Advent is about. The anticipation of new joys and new hopes and new life.
After years and years of wait, the Hebrew people got the Messiah they had been promised. All of humanity was given the Savior of the world. He didn't come in a way that they expected, but when he did come, all was right with the world. God never shows up the way we want him to. He always messes with our sense of expectation. For a while I thought he was some cosmic bully, just letting us know that he's in charge. I'm starting to see that God messes with our expectations because he wants us to know that if we take control of our lives, it just doesn't work out as well. When he takes control, he blows our expectations out of the water. He lets us see just how small our plans are.
So this year, I will celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. I will celebrate knowing that God knew this Christmas would be my last as a non-parent. I will celebrate because God has an enormous plan for the eventual redemption of the world, and I am a small part of it. I will celebrate because he knows what he's doing, even when I don't.