I’ve never been one for large crowds or storms of people. To be honest I prefer solitude, aloneness, and simply being still. While solitary adventures can be healthy, there comes a point where we realize we need connection beyond our own personal company.
We were made to belong – not just to ourselves, but also to our fellow humanity. We were made for community and connection. It provides space for us to walk into the story of other souls. It provides opportunity to ear without judgment and to offer a shoulder. It gives us a chance to see beyond our own lives. Community matters.
What does this have to do with exercising and Advent? Well, I took a Zumba class. I had a great time trying to not fall out from the quickstep Salsas, urban beats, and moves my body nearly refused to do. I kept up though for one whole hour. I may not have been the best and nearly out of breath, but I stayed in that little community of people getting healthy. It reminded me of how much more we achieve when we have an exercise buddy, a supporter, a helper, or a friend to come alongside us. We tend to stick out the tough routines, pain, soreness, progress, and setbacks. We may even find we are empowered to do more than we thought we could.
Tonight I’m reminded of how staying connected to people keeps us moving forward, keeps us grounded, keeps us from suffering in silence, and gives us a place to gently crash when our world goes up in flames. Community spurs us to keep the momentum going.
And then came the quiet hush of Advent. It reminds us how communion and community with God will be restored in way where we’re no longer separated. In John 16 Jesus tells His disciples about His impending departure. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear those weighty words. But Jesus gave them the promise of Advent. He would come again. He would return. Not only would they see Him again, but also He would send them a Helper who would remind them of the truth. In the space between the birth of the Messiah and His final return, we have the hope of Advent.
You see we’re on the other side the first Advent. Christ has come. Christ is risen. Christ will indeed come again. I need that hopeful reassurance. I’m leaning in to this bedrock faith. These “words in bleeding red” speak loud and clear of God’s design for Advent. Namely that His children be reconciled to Him; and the words of Jesus speak of this eternal promise.
Let these words rest in your mind: “The Spirit of Truth will guide you into all truth. He will tell you things to come. He will take of what is mind and declare it to you” (John 16: 13, 14). The With-us God ensures, His presence ever and always with us and in our lives.
It is Advent – the coming of Hope and Light. So when whether I am getting my Zumba on with a group of people, sitting face to face with people who matter to me, joining family and friends in prayer or church service or even volunteering, or linking arms with sisters and brothers, I experience the promise of Advent. I experience a kind of community that private confinement cannot replicate. I experience grace, a welcoming, and an invitation to be a part.
I may never be comfortable with the crowds, and that’s okay. What matters is that I engage with people every time I can. What matters is that each of us engage in the lives of those around us. It’s good for our souls. It keeps us grounded. It helps us recall the reality of Advent in the everyday ordinary mundane. Advent is truth – a story for us all – a story of love without condition, boundless, ardently overwhelming, and and always pursuing relationship.
Perhaps as you ponder the wonder of the Christmas season, you’ll see a find a new perspective. May you see with fresh eyes the beauty of being connected with your fellow humanity.
God thank you for Advent and the reminder that what is to come is more than we could have ever imagined. Remind our hearts to keep seeking, asking, and knocking. Fill us with the wonder of what it means to know and believe the Hope and Promise of the Helper. May our ears hear your Whispers and our souls be intimately connected to you always and forever. Amen.