advent (ˈædvɛnt, -vənt)
— n
an arrival or coming, esp one which is awaited


growing up, my church at home always celebrated advent. my family always celebrated advent. advent, in my mental dictionary, meant “december”. when i came to vanderbilt, i realized that advent is not universally celebrated, even among friends who grew up in the church; even among friends whose parents are pastors. as a result, i have become something of an “advent guru”, with others coming to me to pick my brain about advent- what do the candles mean? why is there a pink one? why four weeks? i’ve been able to share my knowledge, but the one thing i’ve realized is that i actually know very little of the traditions behind advent. what i do understand now is the purpose of the season- the real celebration behind advent.

i feel like college students everywhere really live the idea of “advent”. it’s something to do with this time of life- we’re already adults, but not really. we’re living our own lives, on our own, but financed by our parents (at least in my case. i realize lots of college students don’t have that luxury). we often forget that it is a privilege to be at college and not a punishment (especially during finals time). we are studying and writing and taking classes in the hopes of a future “someday”- someday i’ll be a doctor, someday i’ll have a family, someday i’ll get to cook for myself every night. we are waiting in patient expectation. during finals this is even more true. it feels eternal; like the studying and all-nighters and papers will simply never end. we can’t imagine a different reality, and yet the world around us tells us that something else is coming. christmas lights go up, music on the radio changes, snow starts to fall (even in nashville). we know, somewhere within us, that this too shall pass, and soon we will be home for christmas. even when it feels like there’s no end in sight and an 18 hour drive before we get there.

advent is waiting. waiting for something we’ve heard is better, but can’t really imagine right now. the jews waited hundreds of years without hearing from God before Christ came. advent is remembering that time, and looking towards a new advent. as christians, we are in a time of advent. we’ve heard something better is coming, but we can’t really imagine it right now. but still, we hope. the four advent candles symbolize hope, preparation, joy, and love; what we are called to as we await the second advent of christ.

so wherever you are, whatever you are waiting for the advent of, remember that advent is not a period of thumb-twiddling. remember that it is not a period of punishment. it is a period of preparation, of hope, of joy, and of love. and no matter what happens during this period of advent, remember the most important truth: we know how the story ends.

he is coming.

hope, preparation, joy, love.