Advent begins in darkness. Advent calls us to examination and to remember the coming judgments of Christ. We don’t like darkness. We don’t like waiting. We’ve misinterpreted “judgment” so we don’t like that, either. So, in the process, we’ve diminished a season that is very much needed in the Church.
“Over the centuries, as the church’s liturgical calendar developed, the identity of Advent took on a particular shape that is not so well understood today. The season was not intended to be the run-up to Christmas in the sense that we think of today. It was designed to be the season that looked forward, not to the birth of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, but to the second coming of Christ. Advent locates the church properly, in between the times, the time of waiting through the night for the Bridegroom to come… The time of waiting is long; it is hard; it is extremely dispiriting much of the time; but the promise that the Lord will come sustains the church throughout the night. Keep the lower lights burning!” — Fleming Rutledge, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ