As we move deeper into Advent and our senses are quickened by familiar music and aromas that transport us to distant times and familiar places; as our hearts beat more rapidly at the sight of shepherds and stars and the image of a child wrapped warmly, lying in a makeshift bed, one more suited for feeding animals than for cradling a baby; let’s not forget that we are, once again, participants in remarkable season of hopeful waiting. How wonderfully wise of God to cause us wait, to allow the anticipation to build before giving us the Christmas Gift. Advent is a blessing.
While I write this, I am aware that some of our CBF military chaplains were deployed away from home and family last Christmas, but have returned to celebrate with them this year. Others will be away for the first time and are feeling a particular kind of emotion during this Advent season. Still others will spend yet another Advent and Christmas away from home, deployed to provide meaningful ministry among American and allied service men and women in distant places. They know the joy of being deployed with “troops” they genuinely love and trust; yet, feel the pain of being separated from family members whom they love even more deeply. At first glance one might think your pain and sacrifice more related to Lent than to Advent; maybe, but look more closely at Advent. This season of hopeful waiting is also a time for patient reflection, for deepening understanding, for holding-on to hope that moves us forward. Advent is about anticipating what comes next! It IS a season tailor-made for chaplains, or perhaps chaplains are tailor-made for Advent.
Whether you are home this Advent and Christmas, or are thousands of miles away from those who love you most, I pray you will find this a time to reflect on God’s goodness, even in the brokenness of our world, and then look forward hopefully and joyfully to a celebration of the divine Christmas Gift.
This post is currently featured in the CBF Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling e-Newsletter. Subscribe to receive the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling e-newsletter.