In the midst of Advent, we find ourselves in the space between.
Between the promise and the fulfillment.
Between the announcement and the arrival.
Between the almost and the not-yet.
There is beauty in the in-between time, as we light candles and imagine a future of fulfilled hopes. But there is also trembling, as we put our most vulnerable dreams on the line, crowded by so much uncertainty.
I’m reminded of that haunting line from “O Little Town of Bethlehem”:
The hopes and fears of all the yearsO Little Town of Bethlehem
Are met in thee tonight
As anyone who has ever waited knows, true Advent isn’t just opening windows on a calendar, ticking off the days until Christmas. Waiting is full of hope, yes, but it’s also fraught with angst. There is so much we don’t know: When? How long? How? And what will the waiting cost?
As we count down the days until we meet our baby, we find ourselves in an Advent of our own. When will Baby arrive? How much longer will our waiting be? Will we know when it’s time? What will we find on the other side of our waiting?
There’s a poem by John Donne that includes this gem of a line:
Pregnant again with th’ old twins, Hope and FearJohn Donne
And that’s exactly what waiting feels like, what Advent feels like: hope and fear, mingled inextricably together. We can’t have one twin without the other. We have no choice but to carry the weight of both.
But from where we stand, on the other side of the Incarnation, we have a hint about how the story ends. While we will contend with both hope and fear as long as we live on this earth, one day fear will be swallowed up forever. One day hope will win.
And so we let those twins wrestle inside us as we wait, knowing that Christ’s birth ushered in an era of hope. And when he returns, all our hopes will be forever met in him.
The Incarnation is the place, if you will, where hope contends with fear.Kathleen Norris
Joy Rittierodt says
As our extended family awaits reports on the recovery of a 15 year old currently on a ventilator in the pediatric ICU in Iowa City, we find ourselves pregnant with those twins. Thank you for this reminder that hope will overcome our fear.
Oh Joy! Praying for your precious family member. May the Lord intervene in a powerful way!
Kristen Joy Wilks says
“One day Hope will win!” Thank you again, Stephanie. Praying for you and your family in this anxious but joyous time!
Much hope to you, too!
Susie Crosby says
I just cannot wait for the birth announcement, Stephanie! When we were kids, the advent calendar seemed to slow to a crawl as the days got closer to Christmas. I wonder if you feel this too as you get closer to your due date!
I’m praying for you and Daniel and Graham as you are expecting your miracle any day.
Yes, that’s exactly it! It feels like a double countdown this year.
Maggie Rowe says
I cop to this pregnancy! Its gestation has been, oh let me see, maybe 60 years long already. I had never heard the line from John Donne about the twins before. You weren’t foreshadowing something here, were you?:). Counting down the days with you!
Not that I know of, Maggie! Much hope to you this Christmas!