When Advent season rolls around, the expectation of Christmas day hangs over our daily lives in a very tangible way. We are all waiting for that nostalgically magical day to arrive. We listen to hours on end of syrupy and repetitive Christmas songs on the radio about drummers, two front teeth, and the dreaded Christmas shoes. We hang lights, wrap presents, and watch as our Advent wreaths slowly become brighter with each week. We also wait and look with expectation toward reunion with family members or friends. We long for the loving presence of our loved ones both near and far. This longing is only appropriate in the Advent season of waiting, expecting, and longer for the coming of the Savior of the world: the truest embodiment of love.
This advent season, the world looks particularly crazy and uncertain. Messages of hate and discrimination are whole-heartedly endorsed by far too many. The unthinkable has happened, and I feel as if the world may crumble beneath me, taking with it newly won rights and hard fought victories against discrimination. I look around and find it difficult to glimpse much evidence of love. Love doesn’t seem to be winning any battles right now. From stories on the news, to the statuses of so many relatives and acquaintances on Facebook, to messages inscribed upon the graffiti tunnel at Duke I travel through each day, the voices and actions motivated by hate are loud and overpowering. Some days it seems like love is drowned out completely. Like so many of my brothers and sisters in this country and around the world, I am impatiently waiting for the arrival of love, both in word and deed: love which conquers fear, brings peace, breaks barriers, and protects and empowers all.
I’ve always been one who more often than not reciprocates rather than initiates declarations of love. For as long as I can remember I’ve been great at “I love you too.” Phone conversations, parting words, you name it, I have always waited on the declaration of love from the other person before being willing to make the leap of vulnerability and openness that comes with letting one’s love be revealed. My younger brother, on the other hand, was always the complete opposite. Before going to bed, he usually said “I love you” personally to each family member in the room twice, if not five times. He had no qualms about expressing his love in words or actions, never waiting on the other person.
As the body of Christ, still waiting and expecting the future fullness of love made manifest, we are to be Christ’s love embodied. While we are waiting for love to one day conquer all, we are not to merely reciprocate the love we have and will receive. Perhaps rather than waiting around to be people who may one day respond, “ I love you too,” we should be the ones constantly saying, “I love you” to all those around us, through our words and our actions. This Advent season, while we are still waiting on love, let us not wait to show and share love.