Disappointing and discouraging world events, humanity growing ever more divided, uncertain futures—how can one experience joy in the midst of the suffering we see and experience every day?
Jesus entered a world much like our own. People experienced great turmoil, oppression, suffering, and longing. But Advent reminds us that God entered into humanity to bring hope and embody the way things should be. Jesus’s life revealed the kingdom of God here on earth. He began the work and prepared his followers to continue that work.
It is in this story that I find joy—true joy. When all else seems to fail, I am reminded that it is our job as Christians to live out and struggle for the kingdom of God on earth. God has promised that this kingdom will prevail—a kingdom where all are welcomed and loved, and no one is oppressed, hungry, or persecuted. It is in seeking this kingdom that I feel joy; being an advocate for the ways of the kingdom brings joy in the midst of whatever is happening in life, and excitement about the future of God's work through me.
Advent is a time where we are reminded that we are not the first—nor the last—people that will long for a better world. It is a time to re-orient ourselves towards that vision of the kingdom, so that we do not lose heart, but instead renew our strength and joy by focusing on, trusting in, and participating in God's transforming work. Each Advent season leaves me feeling invigorated and joyful at the possibilities of the future. And so, with Mary, I rejoice in the hope of God's salvation!