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Advent: A Time of Waiting or Reflecting and Repairing?

Recently in Inclusive Gathering Birmingham we spoke about Advent, a time of year often associated with waiting.

Waiting for Christmas day.

Waiting for Jesus.

Waiting to hear God.

This year has felt especially like a time of waiting. Plans put on hold. Friends and family far away. We have been waiting for a vaccine, a time when we can go back to normal and for this year to end. I have spent many days this year wishing it to be over, but I have also thought about how much we waste when we look to the future and forget about the present.

Much like in the Bible where Jesus was waiting to hear from God of his plans it has felt a little bit like I’ve been calling to God and hearing nothing back or being told to be patient. The seasons have changed from summer to autumn to winter, ignorant of humans.

The world outside remains a reminder that everything around us is constantly changing, despite how much we feel stuck in one place. Whilst many will be glad to see this year out and the new year in, I want to spend this time of advent not as a time of waiting or wishing things to change, but a time of gratitude and reflection.

How many times have you spent waiting for something and then it hasn’t been as good as you expect it to be?

How often do our expectations exceed our reality?

In truth, much has changed this year. We have seen the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, governments around the world re-assessing their directions, and communities coming together in new ways.

After all the world has endured these last nine months it feels as if things can’t go back to the way they were. Systems have shown themselves to be broken and the realities laid out bare in front of us.

We can no longer deny the way many in this world are treated unfairly. Those who have plenty continue their profits whilst others go hungry.

I wonder if, really, instead of this being a time of waiting, it is a time of repairing.

How real does the story of Mary and Joseph being let out in the cold, no room in the inn seem now as we hear stories of refugees crossing dangerous seas without a place to go. The terrible journey many make to flee from war and destruction is ever more around us and impossible to turn our backs on. The news reports on places far from our homes but people just like us. Humankind, it feels like, is on the precipice. The decisions we make now will affect the world in years to come.

As forest fires rage and floods engulf the lands it is ever more present the affect we are having on our natural environment. Cities stood still. Streets empty whilst we all stayed at home. Nature took a breath as planes were grounded and cars parked. Surely, we cannot ignore what the world around us is calling out. God sent locus and floods. We have had a global pandemic. Is this 2020’s wake-up call?

If anything, this is not a time to sit around and wait but a time to call out, shout up and stand up. When something is broken you do not simply abandon it or carry on as usual as if nothing has changed. You look at the pieces that are left and try to put them back together. That is what I think we should be doing this Advent.

Instead of a time of waiting or impatience. We should see it as a time of reflection and repairing. So, when the clocks do chime at new year and we welcome 2021 in, we can say goodbye to 2020 and say thank you for the lessons it taught us. For this year has taught us many things.

Amongst the celebration may we be grateful for a year not like any other. Pause to remember those no longer with us. Grieve for our losses. But pick up the pieces in order to try and build something new, something better. So, when we hear God’s voice we might answer with possibilities and opportunities.

Nona Wyld (they/ them) is a writer and researcher, currently completing a PhD in trans studies. They are non-binary and the Gender Identity Inclusion Lead for Inclusive Gathering Birmingham. As a trans Christian, Nona is passionate about sharing their story and celebrating diversity.