So, what do you want?
The last couple days Abbie and I have asked this question to each other as Christmas approaches. This is not the first time the question has come up this season. We’ve already passed around some lists with family members to prepare for gift exchanges. I imagine this is a fairly common question these days. In buying for our kids, we have tried to mitigate the potential insanity of the season by being guided and limited by a phrase Abbie discovered a few years back:
Something they want,
something they need,
something to wear, and
something to read.
To quote a favorite line from the Lego Movie, “It’s true because it rhymes.”
There’s something about this season that unlocks a sense of longing, desire, and wanting that seems to be an innate part of being human. A quote attributed to Plato says: “We are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods and which would have us believe that we can have a great love, perpetuate our own seed, and contemplate the divine.” How’s that for longing? What do we want? We want it all!
Our Advent worship is always oriented toward focusing our desires and longings on the love of God which, in Christ, is love in the flesh. Worship orients us toward love, and the Source of love, which helps shape, discipline, and guide the rest of our desires.
But one of the most difficult things about this season is the painful recognition that what we want is often absent or out of reach. We want our deceased loved one back by our side. We want to be healthy and carefree. We want everyone to get along. We want peace on earth. The longing is opened up, only to reveal how far away is that for which we long. What do you want? Sorry, you can’t have it.
If, for you, this is a season that is too quiet because of absence and longings unfulfilled, we acknowledge and honor this, and pray that love is present within it.
If, for you, this is a season that is too noisy because of buying and scheduling and longings out of control, we acknowledge and honor this, and pray a simpler and more joyful path presents itself.