I turned the calendar to December yesterday and sat with that for a while. This month, we will have been under a global pandemic for 40 weeks; the gestation we never expected. We feel the groan of labor pains crippling us, doubling us over, whispering that we won’t make it through the isolating winter ahead. The silos we’ve been confined to are sealed. And yet.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
Just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.
The invitation to wait with expectation. To honor the season we’re in no matter how difficult. To sit in the humbling posture of introspection, considering our relationship with the God who came first as a vulnerable baby and will come again as a king.
The scaffolding of Advent as it relates to the liturgical calendar is a concept I heard on a podcast with Tsh Oxenreider, whose book Shadow and Light I am reading. The analogy resonates with me. Scaffolding as a noun is a temporary platform; in the world of education and psychology it is a term that describes a support given to a student by an instructor throughout the learning process.
Both of these definitions are a comfort to me in this season of waiting. As a support system, scaffolding allows laborers to achieve greater heights while they erect, repair or adorn a structure.
Though the temporary scaffolding is often an eyesore of lumbar beams and metal bars, it bears evidence of the inner work beneath.
This Advent season may not be filled with parties and pageants. Your Christmas trees may go unseen by eyes other than those of your children. Your scaffolding may be more for repair than creation or adornment on the structure that is your life.
all ye, beneath life’s crushing load
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow
Look, now for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing
Will you commit to move forward with intention? Will your steps, though “painful and slow” remain purposeful? Will you continue to do the heart work of inviting the Lord into your days, over and over, morning after morning, and wait with expectation to see how your year—your very life—will be redeemed?
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.Psalm 24: 7-10
May your waiting not be in vain this Advent season.