Leadership Scholars

Emerging from Advent with Expectation

By Kelly Holdway

In one of my favorite movies, “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe,” an initial scene is a discussion between a small confident girl, Lucy, and her newfound fawn friend, Mr. Tumnus. Under the light of a single lamp post, the fawn is explaining the weather conditions facing the land. While Narnia used to be marked with sunshine and spontaneous sing-a-longs, this frozen state has been persistent – recently, the following phrase resonated with me:

“Always winter, never Christmas…It’s been a long, long winter.”

Does anyone else feel that deeply in their soul? It has been a long, long winter. 

To borrow from another work, a “winter of discontent” (Steinbeck, 1961). A long, long winter of death, disturbance and despair. The isolation has seemed almost icy at times. Many churches are just reopening as we brace for the next wave. Social injustice and cultural volatility seem almost chronic, and commonplace. Some of us even feel unable to celebrate the gains in our lives for fear it will not make space for someone else’s life. It is an impossible winter. And the single lamp post’s light of hope hardly seems visible next to the dumpster fire of the last two years. 

We long for the past Narnian days of warm weather and gathering together. Yet as the movie reminds us, after a freeze that seems impossible, Santa comes, and the ice begins to melt. Ok, maybe not literally Santa, but that is how the movie goes – you can blame C.S. Lewis for that. The ice does melt, and the courageous children walk through flowering trees to find Aslan.

Despite how we feel today, or about this winter-y season, the ice does indeed melt. This season of Advent reminds of that. Theologian Frederich Buechner reminds us of that, “The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment,” (Buechner, 1988).  

Let us cling to that extraordinary moment.

A later movie in the Narnia series, the knighted mouse, Reepicheep, tells us more:

“Extraordinary things only happen to extraordinary people.”

We, the people of God, are those that the valiant mouse speaks of. Let us cling to that extraordinary identity.

If you prefer a non-furry prophetic voice, Isaiah, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert,” (The Wesley Study Bible, 1998). And that’s what the children in Narnia did – followed the way through the wilderness to what was next and new.

Let us cling to that extraordinary path.

As we walk through Advent, from the long, long winter to the new thing, may we find strength in focusing only on the twinkling flicker of our own lamp post, the true light of Christ.

And let us emerge from this Advent season, clinging to the extraordinary notion of expectation.

Kelly E. Holdway is a CBF Leadership Scholar and second-year student (M.Div. and M.S. in Counseling) at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer’s Atlanta Campus. She is a proud dog mom to her Brittany Spaniel, Charis. 

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