by Mike Kinman
O come, O come, Emmanuel. Advent is about longing. And we know longing. We know it well. From the moment we are born, we long to be touched, we long to be held. From our first cry, we long to be understood.
From the first glimpse of the one whose eyes and smile and form makes our pulse quicken and longing consume our heart, we long to be longed for ourselves.
St. Augustine sings of God, “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” We long for a connection beyond ourselves. A source of meaning and a bulwark against loneliness.
We are creatures of restless, longing hearts. We have a deep sense that there is more, that there must be more to life than the endless cycle of rising and sleeping, work and leisure.
Our hearts are restless for something more, long for something more. And no matter how much our economic system tries to convince us our longings can be sated with material goods, we remain ultimately – and often rapidly – unsatisfied. It is relationship that our heart craves. Knowing and being known. Loving and being loved. Longing and being longed for.
And yet, the line between fear and longing is thin.
We long to be known, yet we fear being discovered.
We long for someone to see deep inside us and love us fully, yet we fear being that vulnerable because we can’t bear the possibility of rejection … we can’t bear someone else verifying what we secretly fear … that there is nothing in us worth longing for at all.
We long for a love that will never leave, yet we fear falling fully into another’s arms for fear those arms might drop us.
And so, in Advent, we long … and we sing.
O Come, O come, Emmanuel.
Come, God, be with us. Look deep inside and know us without rejecting us. Embrace us without dropping us. Love us for who we are, not for what we produce or how we look or what we do.
O come, O come, Emmanuel. Ransom your captive children. Held captive by our own self-doubt, self-loathing, and internalized oppression. Held captive by voices from past and present that tell us we are less than, that we are not lovable, that nobody could ever long for us.
O come, O come, Emmanuel. For even when we are surrounded by family and friends, sometimes we feel we are mourning in lonely exile – waiting for you to appear.
Advent is about longing. And Christmas is about discovering.
Christmas is about discovering that as we long, so are we longed for. Truly. Deeply. Fully.
Christmas is about discovering that the one our restless hearts seek is one whose divine heart burns for us. That God’s pulse quickens at our eye, our smile, our form. That God loves us – yes, us — deeply, safely, tenderly and powerfully.
That we can Rejoice! Rejoice! For Emmanuel – God with us yesterday, today and tomorrow – has come to us.
That we are worthy. That we are lovable. That we set the divine heart on fire.
This Advent, pay attention to your longings. Search your heart for its deepest desire. Pray it. Speak it. Sing it. Dance it. Laugh it. Cry it. Bring it before God. Take a chance and share it with another. Seek out the Christ in another’s eyes, voice, heart.
This Advent, imagine God longing. Longing to be with you. Longing to know your heart. Longing to hold you and never let you go. Longing for that magical night when heaven touches earth and you and all humanity are anointed with the tenderest of kisses.
The world is not as it should be. There is so much to long for. This Advent, let yourself long. And know that God longs with you. Know that God longs for you. Know that God’s promise is the day will come when all our longings come true.