Advent is about hope. As the year turns to a close, there can be a haunting bitter-sweet feel to this month – hoping for loved ones to return, for health to return, balancing limited family budgets with unlimited expectations of children.
For some, the aspects that would make a happy Christmas are missing. Reality is always less than it might be. This season of Advent is in tune with our feelings. Advent is a time to hope for what is not. Christmas, however, is time to celebrate what is.
If Advent is a time to lament the fact that the kingdom has not come to its fullness, Christmas is a time to rejoice in the fact that the Kingdom has been born in our midst.
If Advent is a time to lament the continuing power of darkness around us, Christmas is a time to celebrate the light of the world born in Bethlehem.
The point is this, Advent and Christmas are linked like two sides of the same coin. If Advent has been celebrated with the kind of bracing honesty that enables us to name and lament the ways in which evil and despair continue to rule, Christmas will naturally become a season of celebration of the grace of God, which is far stronger than evil and despair.
Christmas is hope realised. December is the time for expressing the hope and strenghtening the dreams that will carry us through the year.