The Longing Joy of Advent
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
The beautiful words of “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley speak of the already-and-not-yet conundrum of wanting Jesus to come back to set things right in our hearts and in the world. Wesley’s words place us in an Israel space…a space between knowing our God’s tangible presence and needing our God to tangibly prevail.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Joy is tricky. It’s tricky because it can slide us right into denial. It’s tricky because joy can seem more temperamental than true (some people have it…some just don’t.) It’s tricky because it can strike a shrill note with those who are suffering.
But it is tricky-est, perhaps, because true joy requires true connection with our longing. True joy requires authenticity in the face of suffering along with a willingness to authentically believe in something that we cannot yet see.
There’s a difference between longing and wanting, just like there is a difference between joy and happiness. We want a lot of things—we even badly want them. But we long for the deepest things. Longings feel like homesickness to our battered hearts.
Our longing, says Wesley, is what opens up space for joy at Advent.
Joy comes when we open the doors of our longing wide, exposing our vulnerability and saying yes to the whispered promise that there is resolution and redemption in Jesus. Present, true desire meets foreshadowed, true salvation. And we have joy.
Thank God for the angels who did not whisper joy but who, instead, announced its fullness when they said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)
Today, may your truest longing make space in your heart for true joy because of what is true this Advent. Good news is still on the way.
May it be so.
The Kaleid Team
P.S. The Bible Project’s Advent video on Joy is worth watching!