The liturgical calendar tells the Christian story by marking certain moments and seasons that enable us to feel the rhythms of our salvation. Like any good story, it begins with conflict, with a crisis in search of a resolution. Our story begins with Advent.
Advent is a season of pain, a reflection on the fact that God is not yet here. He’s coming, yes, Advent assures us of this, for the word itself means coming. But right now, he’s not yet here, things are not as they should be, and so life hurts. Advent reminds us that we are desperate people living in desperate times.
During this season, then, we take the opportunity to do what all of creation is doing all the time: we wait, and we groan. We know that creation waits enslaved to the power of sin and death, and so, as Paul tells us, creation groans, and we along with it. We get depressed. People reject us. Families unravel. Our bodies break down and scream at us. Bad things happen to good people, and good people even do bad things.
So we sing this time of year, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.” The world—and we a part of it—is waiting in pain. Come Lord Jesus! Come quickly to our rescue!