Advent: A Time to Sing and Groan

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly
for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Romans 8:22-25
Dear Servants,
This Sunday begins the new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent. The last few Sundays of the previous liturgical year focused on our Lord’s call for us to be prepared for His return. Now as we enter the four Sundays of Advent, the continued focus on the Lord’s return is coupled with anticipation of the celebration of Jesus’ birth, His first coming. This dual emphasis creates a tension – we celebrate the coming of our Lord and yet we groan from the long period of waiting to get there. As the days get shorter and the nights longer, we feel the spiritual darkness coming in around us, and yet in the midst of a dark world we proclaim the light of Christ has come! Liturgically, we try to visualize the tension with the purple color, usually associated with Lent, and yet we sing songs of joy like, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” We add the Advent wreath, symbolic of life in the midst of death (evergreen and in the shape of a circle), and of hope in the lighting of one additional candle each week. On the first Sunday of Advent we add the Exhortation – a warning against receiving Communion without repentance – and in subsequent Sundays we say the Decalogue to remind us of our sin. But we continue to say, “Alleluia.”
The apostle Paul captures the spirit of Advent as he describes our groaning for our redemption in Jesus Christ with all of creation. Paul says much like a pregnant woman near her due date grows weary as she awaits the arrival of her new baby, so we wait expectantly. Christ came into the world over 2,000 years ago in fulfillment of all the Old Testament expectations. He has come into our hearts as we have opened ourselves to His love and mercy. And yet, Jesus will come again to complete our redemption at His return. Paul reminds us that we must continue in that hope and exercise patience as we wait. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to live in tension; it feels wrong. And yet doesn’t a season of tension express exactly what we as believers feel? It’s the now and not yet of the Kingdom. We are called the saints of God and yet we are still sinners in need of redemption. We bear the light of Christ and yet we do so in a “body of death.”
My prayer is that we will walk through the tension of the Advent season allowing ourselves to both sing and groan.Many around us have already rushed to the consumerism and holiday bliss because of the pain of life and yet we know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  Therefore we rejoice with tears and groan with hope. Pretty weird, right? Welcome to Advent!
Onward and Upward,


  1. Gross, Bobby. Living the Christian Year. Intervarsity Press, 2009.

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